Nineteen Years Later, Wait’s Over As Town Breaks Ground On Belmont Police HQ’s Renovation

Photo: At the groundbreaking of the (from left); Anne Marie Mahoney, Anthony Ferrante, Stephen Rosales, Michael Smith, Roy Epstein, Police Chief Richard McLaughlin, architect Ted Galante.

According to Anne Marie Mahoney, it was early in 2000 when town officials and committee heads created a “wish list” of capital and infrastructure projects around Belmont that “needed to get done” which included a new high school, a revisioned skating rink and a revamped DPW yard.

And near the top of the list was replacing the then 69-year-old police headquarters, a structure at the end of its useful life, with outdated facilities that housed an overcrowded department.

“We knew then we needed to do something with this building,” she said.

Fast forward to a sunny and warm July morning in 2019 as a large group of elected and town officials, architects, police officers came to celebrate the groundbreaking of the renovation and new construction at the now 88-year-old police headquarters.

Anne Marie Mahoney

“Here we are 19 years later and this is the last of the projects on that list,” said Mahoney, the chair of the building committee overseeing the work at both the Police headquarters and the Department of Public Works.

The renovation and new construction of the police station will top just north of $11 million which was approved at the Spring Town Meeting. The interior of the existing building will be renovated with the construction of additional square footage that will include space for an elevator, locker rooms, new holding cells, a secure sally port for the transportation of suspects and a new booking room.

Belmont Police Chief McLaughlin, who is retiring at the end of the year, thanked “a very fun and energetic and innovative committee” for addressing all the issues related to the building.

“I’m just very grateful because it’s something that is very needed in the community. And I truly believe once it’s all done and completed, it’s going to be a project that we all can be very proud of,” said McLaughlin.

Select Board Chair Tom Caputo also noted the committee had to contend with “a very challenging project” with its historical, time and budget constraints.

“And yet everybody came together to figure out a way to deliver a great design be a great building,” he said.

Ted Galante, the principal of the Galante Architecture Studio in Cambridge. said he came to the project with an initial goal of adding 10 years to the building’s life so the town could plan for a new station with a projected cost of $30 million.

Ted Galante, the principal of the Galante Architecture Studio.

“But we started to think a little creativity and the committee started to push and we started to push back,” said Galante. “Here we’re building a new building while preserving the existing historic structure.”

“The best years are not behind us; the best years are ahead of us. It’s a historic building and we respent the past but you build looking forward. And that’s really our intention, to build looking forward, save the town money and give the police what they need for the next 50 years,” said Galante.

After the ceremonial groundbreaking, Mahoney said everyone was welcomed back in the fall of 2020 for the ribbon cutting “showing that we have preserved the historic exteriors of the 1931 building, created some additions and renovated the entire interior, which is pretty exciting,” said Mahoney.

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