‘Stars Are Aligned’ on Site for Police Station in Leominster
LEOMINSTER -- Roughly one week before they’re scheduled to vote on whether to allow the city to borrow the $2 million needed to buy land for construction of a new police station, city councilors appear to only have good things to say about the project.
The council is scheduled to vote on Sept. 6, but a public forum held Monday night showed that many councilors are so far impressed by the plan to acquire four properties on Central Street for the project.
“With the sites we’ve looked at over the last 20 years, this certainly was the best fit for us,” said At-large Councilor Claire Freda. “I’m certainly happy to get to this point.”
Freda was joined by Ward 1 Councilor Gail Feckley and Ward 4 Councilor Mark Bodanza in praising the location. Though some councilors did have questions about access-ways for the proposed station and the assessed values of the properties versus what the city is willing to spend, no member of the council raised any clear objection Monday night to buying the land.
“I’m very impressed and hopeful,” said Feckley. “I think this is great information and a great location.”
If approved to make the purchase, the city would acquire parcels on Central Street at 106, 112, 116, and 124, which, when combined with a parcel the city already owns on 106 Cross St., would give the city over 2 acres to build on. Construction of the project, which has seen various iterations over the last 20 years, could start as early as the beginning of 2019, Mayor Dean Mazzarella said.
“It’s still our hope that we will not have to do a debt exclusion and an override or increase the cost of taxes for this specific project,” he said, explaining the city will most likely borrow internally to buy the land. “The stars are aligned, everything is moving along.”
Mazzarella added that the city would likely purchase the land at some point between Sept. 28 and Oct. 17, which would then be followed by the demolition of buildings on four of the parcels involved in the project.
Though the city would still need to have a new site plan drawn for the Central Street location, Mazzarella also said the city does already have an understanding of the Police Department’s space needs based on the plan that was made for the last site of a proposed police station, the former National Plastics Center & Museum on Lancaster Street.
The city estimates that construction of the station could be as much as $29 million, however some of those costs could be offset by a $2.5 million MassWorks grant the city has applied for to pay for infrastructure improvements in the area of the proposed site.
Interim Police Chief Michael Goldman also spoke Monday night, highlighting proximity of the land to the downtown area.
“I was dramatically opposed to it not being downtown and I am ecstatic with the location,” he said. “I could not be happier.”
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