By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — Spring Town Meeting voted to appropriate $325,000 to fund the design of the public safety buildings and Town Hall project on Monday night.
Town Administrator Rob Dolan said Article 12 requested Town Meeting to appropriate $325,000 from the Capital Facilities Maintenance Fund to finance the architectural and engineering plans for the estimated $41.25 million project. He recalled that Article 12 originally sought to bond $3.85 million for architectural services.
“This approach had some risk to it, as the town could conceivably spend $3.85 million on the design of a project that could be rejected by voters when they were asked for approval for the borrowing and appropriation necessary to finance the full project,” said Dolan.
Dolan said the Select Board’s goal is to have the project not result in a tax increase because the project’s cost will replace the debt expiring from the Reedy Meadow Golf Course purchase and the school projects from the early 2000s.
“It has been the charge of the Select Board to craft a project that would meet all of the operational needs of the Police and Fire Departments for decades to come,” said Dolan.
After discussing the project with the Finance Committee and a financial advising firm, Dolan recommended that the project continue to be studied due to “the volatility of interest rates and construction costs.”
“We believe that in order to keep this very necessary project on schedule, an appropriation of $325,000 from the Capital Facilities Maintenance Fund would allow the town to pay for the necessary schematic designs, soil and environmental testing to reach with confidence a full project cost estimate,” said Dolan.
Fire Chief/Emergency Management Director Glenn Davis and Police Chief Nick Secatore gave an overview of the currently estimated $41.25 million project while a slideshow depicting the aging facilities was played on a projector screen. The project entails building a new Fire Headquarters next to the existing South Station. The project also seeks to renovate and expand the Police Station, the current Fire Headquarters and Town Hall. The Town Hall component of the project will make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“Once complete, the Town Hall site will be home to a functional, safe and modern public safety facility and a fully compliant customer service-driven Town Hall with meeting space open to all of our boards, committees and our community,” said Davis. “On book ends of Summer Street, our new facilities will define the character of our community and provide our public safety departments with modern and safe locations from which to continue to serve our residents.”
Secatore said the Police and Fire Departments desperately need new facilities.
“We need to provide our firefighters, paramedics, police officers and dispatchers the tools to do their job not only in 2022, but for the next 75-plus years,” said Secatore. “Our current facilities do not do that. This plan solves this challenge.”
Secatore said the project will “solve several issues.”
“It addresses current knowledge regarding carcinogens and rising cancer rates among firefighters nationwide,” said Secatore. “It will allow for the safe movement of prisoners, with a focus on officer safety. It also provides the flexibility needed to meet the ever-evolving responsibilities of the Fire and Police Departments.”
Secatore also noted the project will provide “equitable space” for female police officers, firefighters and dispatchers. While the town has women who work as firefighters and dispatchers, there are no women serving as Lynnfield police officers.
“Chief Davis and I have made it clear that hiring more female police officers and firefighters is a priority,” said Secatore. “To put it simply, women deserve safe and equal spaces in the workplace. This plan solves that challenge. We must provide access for disabled citizens at Town Hall, and we must meet ADA requirements. All citizens deserve equal and safe access to their Town Hall.”
Davis recalled that six firms submitted bids for the project’s architectural design services, and the Public Safety Building Committee interviewed the firms. He said Tappé Architects and Mitchell Associates were the firms hired.
“Tappé Architects is coming off an incredibly successful school expansion project at Summer Street School and Huckleberry Hill School,” said Davis. “Mitchell Associates is among the premier firms in the nation that solely design public safety buildings. They have several award-winning designs and buildings in the vicinity of Lynnfield. I believe we have the internal management team, the design team, and the public safety leadership and staff to deliver a project that we can all be proud of and addresses our needs.”
The Select Board and Finance Committee both recommended Article 12. Dolan noted that the Capital Facilities Maintenance Fund will have a $1,245,000 balance if Article 12 was approved.
“It’s at the higher level range recommended by the town’s financial policies,” said Dolan. “We believe this approach is the most transparent and fiscally responsible approach in the times we are living in right now.”
In response to a question from Summer Street resident Geraldine Karonis, Select Board member Joe Connell said the $325,000 is all that Town Meeting is being asked to appropriate for the project at this point.
Town Meeting voted 133-8 to approve Article 12. There were two people who abstained from voting.