Photo: The Belmont Police Headquarters ready for the move Monday
The painting is done, the new furniture is in place, and come Monday, March 8, the staff and officers of the Belmont Police Department will be moving back to its long-time headquarters at the corner of Pleasant Street and Concord Avenue.
And the change of addresses from the temporary headquarters – located in modulars on Woodland Street they entered in August 2019 – is scheduled to take just one day to accomplish.
“Overall, the project is in very good shape; the interiors are wrapping up and we should have a final [town] inspection Friday,” said Ted Galante, the principal of the Galante Architecture Studio in Cambridge which designed the police headquarters’ extension and interior as well as revamped the Department of Public Works structure.
For those who oversaw the building project, the return of the department to its headquarters is a success story despite a few bumps in the road.
“It looks fantastic from where we started,” said Ann Marie Mahoney, the chair of the Building Committee and as long time head of the Capital Budget Committee who had spearheaded for more than a decade the drive within Town Meeting to provide “a humane place” for both the Police and Department of Public Works employees to work from.
While the year-and-a-half-year construction project was the rehabilitation and expansion of the now 90-year-old original structure, it will be a whole new experience for the men and women who endured its famously cramped and antiquated depths.
Where once were constricted spaces with no storage will be rooms with accompanying filing and cabinets. Rather than just a single stairway leading to the second floor, an elevator has been installed. The men’s locker rooms are expanded while female officers will have their first dedicated changing space and showers instead of a jerry-rigged set up they had languished with. The once constricted booking area – where the cells are – is now an expanded space, secured with an internal sally port to safely transfer detainees.
“The furniture has all been installed and … the little bit the punch list (the to-do’s list that need to be completed before a project can be considered finished) on the interior of the building has been cleaned up,” said Galante, who said the town’s certificate of occupancy was expected to be issued on Friday, March 5.
The project did not meet its scheduled opening day in October due to a COVID-19 delay receiving the charcoal black terra cotta panels (installed on the newly built extension) when the Italian manufacturer was forced to close shop last summer.
Finally, the landscaping and any leftover exterior work will be completed by the spring.
While the physical portion of the project is all-but completed, there still remains work to be done bringing the work in on a budget of just south of $11.8 million. And while she said the project was “a little bit on fumes,” Mahoney is confident that “when the project is presented to Town Meeting, every penny will be accounted for.”
What started as a $6.7 million renovation and expansion in 2018 ballooned to nearly $12 million a year later when the project’s scope changed to include a complete interior rehab, requiring a special town meeting vote for an added $3.76 million. While there were some grumblings at Town Meeting of a “bait and switch,” the additional funds were approved easily.
With a few “soft” costs remaining, the committee is sitting on about $31,500 in unencumbered funds with a commitment from the Capital Budget Committee to pay for “whatever odds and ends that may need funding,” said Mahoney.
Mahoney said a major reason the new headquarters will come in on budget is due to a shade under $30,000 in private contributions from residents and groups such as the Richard Lane Foundation, named after the late Belmont assistant Police Chief which will be paying for landscaping, a new flag pole and equipping rooms to be used by officers.
Actually the project will be returning approximately $35,000 to the Community Preservation Committee of the $100,000 it requested for exterior work such as masonry work while sending back to the Warrant Committee about $50,000 from a $250,000 transfer to repair a retaining wall and mitigate the “junk” soil on the site.
“This is fabulous,” said Building Committee member Stephen Rosales. “It’s close but it’s in the black.”