Danvers would need to spend between $4.4 million and $6.5 million to build a new dispatch center and renovate the Danvers Police Station, according to three options presented to the Board of Selectmen this week.
Danvers Police Chief Neil Ouellette said the town opened the police station in 1977 and it was a beautiful building, but it’s now “bursting at the seems.”
The police/fire dispatch center has outlived its usefulness. Town Manager Wayne Marquis said Danvers needs to modernize the police communication system.
Danvers had explored going with other nearby towns in a regional dispatch center at the Essex County Sheriff's Office in Middleton, but ultimately decided to not join the other communities. So now, Danvers is looking for a new dispatch center and will seek other communities to join Danvers in the dispatch center.
Ouellette said Salem is one community that has shown interest in a dispatch center in Danvers.
The current dispatch center room is not large enough for what’s needed. There is no storage and the break room and restrooms are not adjacent to the dispatch center, which is ideal so the dispatchers don’t have to leave the immediate area.
The basement is filled with dispatch center computer equipment and a flood in the basement would be a “catastrophe.” The current training room is also not big enough for the training that is needed for public safety, said Ouellette.
Architect Dore & Whittier provided three expansion options for Danvers that ranged from $4.4 million to $6.5 million. Each of the plans also include installing new windows and doors, a sprinkler system and making the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is required for any new construction.
- The most expensive option is a two-story addition with a community and training room on the first floor and dispatch on the second floor.
- The second option is $5.5 million and is also a two-story addition, but it’s not as large and the dispatch center would be on the first floor.
- The third option would cost $4.4 million and would only include a dispatch center on the first floor.
Ouellette said the current building is not compliant with fire laws and it’s “not a healthy situation” for staff.
Selectman Diane Langlais recently took a tour of the facility and said she was “a little horrified” at the conditions.
“You can’t ask people to do superior work if they’re not in the appropriate environment,” she said.
She supported Option 1.
“What we have dispatchers working under is horrendous in my opinion,” said Langlais.
Selectman Bill Clark said there are a lot of projects before the town. In addition to the police station, Danvers is also looking for a new heating system at the library, a ladder truck for the Fire Department, athletic fields at Danvers High School and a new Smith School. Clark said a new dispatch center is an “important priority” for Danvers, but wondered how much the town can afford over the next few days.
Ouellette acknowledged that the plans are pricy. He said the town receives $70,000 annually from the state 911 project, which Danvers could bond over a 10-year period to help pay for a portion of the project. Ouellette doesn’t think the state would provide more money for the new dispatch center because of the $10 million dispatch center built in Middleton that serves six communities.
Though getting communities to join the Danvers dispatch center can help with paying for the day-to-day operations, the police chief Danvers will need to pay the up-front capital costs.
The Board of Selectmen will discuss the three options at a future meeting.