Town spending thousands on temporary Dartmouth police headquarters
By Nicole Brazier
Dartmouth Police Officers have been working from their parking lot for several months after Legionnaires Disease was found inside the police station.
Now, they may never be able to use that building again.
Modulars and trailers in the police station parking lot were supposed to be a temporary solution lasting maybe a few weeks.
But this new “headquarters” is now costing the town more than $10,000 per month.
The 80 employees of the Dartmouth Police moved from their station to a trailer in the parking lot back in March when legionella bacteria was found inside the station.
Since then, the Department of Public Health has found a number of additional issues including corrosion and mold, leaving the town’s $70,000 budget falling short.
Michael Watson, Chairperson of the Select Board, says “There will be several hundred thousand dollars in cost associated with renovating this building. If we were to look at that it is located in a flood zone and there are some issues that we have to consider with that.”
The other option is to find an entirely new station. But that would mean more money out of taxpayers’ pockets.
Currently, this operation is costing the town about $12,000 each month.
And while police officials say they’ve found ways to work with their current situation, they find logistical problems around every corner.
Dartmouth Police Chief Timothy Lee says, “It’s extremely difficult on a daily basis for the men and women who have to work here. This is not exactly optimal. This was supposed to be a short-term, couple of weeks solution, and we’re six months into this.”
With the current layout officers and detectives are separated, making it hard to communicate within the station.
Prisoners can’t be brought in, so officers at the State Police barracks are lending a helping hand. Not to mention the everyday inconveniences.
“On a day when we’re having thunderstorms and heavy rain to have to walk through the parking lot just to get to the restrooms you get soaked before you can get back.”
At least one officer got sick with legionnaires disease before the department was moved out of the building. Chief Lee says he won’t authorize anyone back inside until it’s deemed safe.
The select board will meet again on August 4th to consider a feasibility study, which will determine if it makes more sense to try and rehab this building or find a new one for the police department.
© WLNE-TV 2014