Glocester council votes to reverse course on construction of police station; Renovations now in planning

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GLOCESTER – At their recent meeting, the Glocester Town Council reversed their previous decision to construct a new police station near Adelaide Road. Instead, they voted unanimously to move forward on the plan to renovate the current facility on Chopmist Hill Road.

“We would not be able to use the $3.85 million toward the new construction,” explained Council Vice President Stephen Arnold, who rescinded his original motion and made the new motion to renovate. “That was our funding sources’ decision, not ours.”

Arnold explained as they moved forward to address the restrictions of grants, particularly the $3.85 million state grant, they discovered requirements that would have limited the amount of that grant that could be used on a new facility. All of the approved grant funding can be used on renovations, meanwhile, which are also expected to cost less than new construction.

“When we did our due diligence, crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s, it became apparent that that $3.85 million was only eligible for renovation,” said Arnold. “Very disappointing.”

A new station has been estimated to cost approximately $17,300,000. At a special meeting on Wednesday, March 27, that cost was said to translate to an approximate 39 cents per $1,000 on property taxes, or about $135 on a home valued at $350,000. Renovations at the current station were estimated at $15,046,570, an approximate $2.3 million difference, some of which could be offset by selling the existing station.

The difference, if all of the grants could have been used, would have been reduced to $1.5 million, an amount which is not significant, said Arnold, looking at the long term implications. Renovating the old station, including grants, amounts to approximately 6 cents per $1,000. That would amount to about a total of $21 on a home valued at $350,000.

A new facility would have been more beneficial, would have provided room for additions and improvements in the future and would have been a better location overall, said Arnold. Given the new cost difference, however, that picture changed, financially.

“I said all along, and I will stick by it: a new police station is the right thing for Glocester in the long haul, especially when the delta or difference was so close,” said Arnold. “I didn’t change my mind. The money changed my mind.”

When the grant was subtracted, he said, the gap became too much.

“The delta just grew too wide,” added Arnold. “For me personally, I thought it was too much to ask of the taxpayers of Glocester. It just came down to dollars for me, what we could reasonably and responsibly ask of the taxpayers.”

“We would not do anything that would cause pain and suffering for the residents of Glocester, financially,” agreed Council President William Worthy. “But again, money we could secure through different grants, we didn’t want to lose that money either.”

He added that the council not only had to think of the, “here and now,” but of the future, as well.

“We have to make hard decisions for the future of Glocester,” said Worthy. “Nobody on that council wanted to see an opportunity missed if what we were being told was correct. We vetted it, and now we know we have to move in a different direction. We never said a remodel would be worse, but, if you can get something new, new is great.”

The $490,000 COPS grant must be allocated by the end of this year, while the $1 million FEMA grant has a 2.5 year limit, and the recently awarded ARPA grant of $3.85 million must be earmarked by 2026. Once final numbers are determined, a referendum will be placed before voters to approve or disapprove a bond to finance the renovations.

“I think the entire community recognizes the need for something to happen,” said Arnold. “I am optimistic they will support this.”

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Oh Dang, there goes JB’s example in North Smithfield. I believe in general small towns throughout our country will be facing very difficult financial conditions over the next few years. Spending cannot go on at current paces without the federal government burning cash. To me this seems unsustainable in the near future.

  2. I am really confused why a town whose population hasn’t changed appreciably in 20+ years, and has crime rates objectively decreasing year after year feels the need to expand their police station and police force?

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