A deteriorating facility and combining emergency resources into one building are two reasons why the Town of East Lyme’s first selectman is asking taxpayers to fund a new public safety building.
First Selectman Mark Nickerson said the town is looking to move the police department from a leased spot on Main Street to the Honeywell property at 227 West Main Street (Route 156).
The project will cost around $6 million to buy the 30,000 square foot office/warehouse building and renovate it. It sits on 17 acres. About $2.8 million would go toward purchasing the space and an estimated $3.2 million would be used toward updating and renovating the building to public safety building standards.
The proposed complex would be the first time the police department—including jails and evidence lockers that are rented from Waterford police—the dispatch center, the fire marshal’s office and the emergency operations center would all be under one roof.
The police department would also be a 24/7 facility, Nickerson said, instead of the lobby closing at night and on the weekends.
"You have a building that has water intrusion on a regular basis, so you have items that are being ruined. That would be records, that would be the armory – a couple of months ago we had water intrusion there," East Lyme Police Chief Michael Finkelstein said. He gave NBC Connecticut video that showed the police station last month with pooled with water on the floor.
The new facility would also provide more avenues for officers to get to different parts of town, Finkelstein said.
Taxpayers would foot the bill through a 20-year bond, Nickerson said. There will be public forums and if it passes several boards and commission, the plan would be up for a referendum vote.
In the last 14 years, two attempts to create a public safety complex failed to gain community support.
“In 2004, a $6.5 million proposal to partner with state and federal organizations to build a multi-purpose facility on the grounds of Camp Niantic did not receive approval from the town's Board of Finance. Four years later, a $14 million complex was rejected by voters at referendum,” according to a press release sent out by the First Selectman’s office.