supporters posed with bright, clean shovels, all but one of which never made it into the ground at this morning’s groundbreaking ceremony on Humphrey Street.
Later, long after group photographs were clicked for posterity, police Chief Ron Madigan couldn't resist scooping a clump of hard-packed pumping station dirt into his shovel.
That drove home the point for him that the town was actually getting a new station with the room and features to carry out 21st century police work.
He and others said during the ceremony that the road to the $6.4 million station was long, winding and rife with barriers.
The chief wondered at times if he would see a new station in his career.
Town Administrator Andrew Maylor said the effort was some 15 years in the making, the route anything but a straight line.
Selectmen’s Chairman Matt Strauss said it was gratifying after so many debates and votes to see the station construction about to get underway.
Moderator Joe Markarian summed up the day in four words: “A long time coming.”
The first thank you from the police chief went to the residents who approved the $3.35 million bond by 27 votes last spring in tough economic times.
Thanks went out to the individuals and groups who labored on behalf of the project including building committee and capital improvement program members.
The physical work starts next week, said Project Manager Sean Burke.
TLT Construction will soon sink piles for the two-story, 13,700-square-foot station on town-owned land at 531 Humphrey Street by the town pumping station.
Work will continue through winter with the project's completion next year at this time.
Longtime Swampscott Patrolman Mark Steadman, who grew up in town, and fellow officers will no longer have to usher prisoners down the narrow and dark stairs at the 73-year-old station on Burrill Street.
Police, prisoners, and the public including those with injuries or disabilities will have easy access, he said.
Friday was a welcomed day, a milestone for the department and town.