Photo: The current Belmont Police Headquarters
Got an extra room you can spare? How about a spacious backyard that’s available to rent?
Than call the Belmont Police because the force will need a place to crash beginning this summer as its nearly 90-year-old headquarters undergoes a comprehensive renovation.
That’s the latest from the police brass and the building committee overseeing the expansion and modernization of both the police headquarters on Concord Avenue and the Department of Public Works facilities off C Street as they came before the Belmont Board of Selectmen for an update on the projects on Monday, Feb. 4.
And while the groups have been in talks with several groups in town to find an acceptable interim site, Anne Marie Mahoney, chair of the DPW/BPD Building Committee, said “we are not ready to articulate our list” of possible stopgap locations, although later in the presentation, Town Hall was mentioned as a “possible” replacement site.
According to Mahoney, bids for both projects will go out in March with construction beginning in June. She also noted while estimates call for a 10 month construction schedule, “if you ever [renovated] a kitchen … you know what takes 10 months can quickly become a year to 15 months.”
Mahoney told the board the original plan to keep the 55 member department – of which 48 are sworn officers – in the structure at the corner of Concord and Pleasant Street was deemed “not a good idea” by all parties due to safety concerns of police personnel working in a construction area and the acknowledgement that renovating an empty building would allow a quicker and more extensive restoration.
The question now facing the police and town is where the force will be relocated. Police Chief Richard McLaughlin said operational and organizational analysis performed by assistant Chief James MacIsaac placed safety, parking, accessibility and public access high on the list of requirements for a temporary site, all the while doing so with the minimum of disruption while not taking up space.
One unit already knows where its going and it’s not far. Communications, which includes the 9-1-1 operations, will be housed in a trailer in the front of headquarters since all its equipment will remain in the building.
McLaughlin told the board the biggest potential headache is how to deal with 25 “marked” police vehicles that will need to be parked close to the temporary headquarters.
“Where do they go?” he said. There are also issues with security for officers and civilian employees, those arrested, processed and detained (“our visitors”) and storage of evidence and paperwork.
“Every issue around town revolves around parking,” quipped Mahoney.
The committee and police will be back before the board in two weeks with more definitive plans.