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Bellingham constructing police station without override

April 7, 2014

The town of Bellingham, Mass., hometown of Walpole Town Administrator Michael Boynton, is in the process of constructing a $6.8 million police station, without a debt exclusion override.

How are they doing it? Simple: by reducing operating expenses and using a 20-year bond to pay for the project.

According to the Milford Daily News, the one-story facility will be 13,636 square feet, including a safer booking area, “a more community-friendly lobby,” and an emergency operations center. The facility is loosely modeled after the Arlington Police Station, and was designed by Kaestle Boos Associates Inc., a Foxborough architectural firm.

A committee was tasked with keeping the project within $6.8 million to avoid the need for an override. “It started with a $9 million two-story facility and whittled that down to a 14,500-square-foot one-story building,” according to the Milford Daily News.

The town will make annual payments of $335,000 to pay off the bond for the building over 20 years.

Selectman Michael Soter told the Milford Daily News: “We scaled it back to what we believe the town can afford, and only what the town can afford.”

Soter and his board are welcome in Walpole any time. We need that type of attitude at Walpole Town Hall.

To compare the two communities, Bellingham has a population of 16,332 (Walpole has about 24,000 people); Bellingham has a municipal budget of slightly higher than $47 million (Walpole has a budget of about $80 million); and Bellingham has about 30 total police employees (Walpole has about 40 police employees).

Walpole is proposing a two-story police station on South Street that would be included as part of a larger $30 million plan to build a new fire station, new senior center, Town Hall renovations, and new DPW facilities along with a police station. That figure would be reduced by $10 million through the use of one-time money available in the budget, so voters would be presented with a $20 million debt exclusion override.

What do you think? Can Walpole afford a new police station within our existing operating budget?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 7, 2014 8:45 PM

    No way! Not after the way this town waste money on there other stupid projects like that ugly bridge to no where, down at the town hall.They could of at least built maybe a little covered bridge so it would at least look like that it belonged in New England.It’s a good idea but it won’t happen here not with out another overide maybe some year the police will get there new police station but don’t hold your breath.

  2. Thomas Schneider permalink
    April 10, 2014 10:16 PM

    Of course we can. There’s an override here every two years anyway! Might as well spend it on something worthwhile like new facilities for the police and senior citizens . Seriously , overrides here have paid for Adams Farm , the High School , the Library (all gems). I moved here in 1996 and people were discussing a new police station THEN. The South St. location is perfect. The time is now. Just do it: naysayers take note it’ll cost you 41 cents a day…

    • April 10, 2014 11:33 PM

      Your comment is hard to follow. Are you of the belief an override is unnecessary or necessary to fund a new police station?

  3. Tom Driscoll permalink
    April 13, 2014 4:58 PM

    This is very simply a matter of efficient fiscal management. Bellingham had the foresight to prefund with interest discounted dollars and restraints in budgeting. Taxpayers can enjoy benefits on a predictable taxation basis. Well run businesses and households understand this concept. Government doesn’t always understand the “fly now – pay latter” approach can be very costly.

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