Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation Executive Director David McGowan appears before the Board of Selectmen Monday Evening.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Police Department Tuesday moved into its new station on Simonds Road.
Town Manager Jason Hoch announced the move on Monday at the Board of Selectmen meeting, noting that while little in the way of infrastructure will be moved from the “old” station in town hall, the move required a lot of work transferring the department’s communications systems up Route 7.
“Tomorrow will be a buzz of technical activity,” Hoch said.
Chairman Jeffrey Thomas used the announcement as an opportunity to thank Hoch for his efforts to solve a problem that has been discussed in town for decades.
“This particular project, Jason deserves a lion’s share of credit for recognizing the opportunity to build a police station on that site,” Thomas said.
The site in question was formerly home to the Turner House for veterans, which announced its closure a couple of years ago. The town acquired the property, renovated the former apartment house and roughly doubled its footprint with an addition that includes the new jail, a sally port for the safe transfer of detainees, a communications hub and an elevator to make the facility fully accessible.
Thomas marveled at the speed with which the project was accomplished.
“In the fall of 2017, we had a special town meeting where we agreed to purchase the property,” he said. “By May’s annual town meeting, Jason had gotten a budget together. Three weeks after that town meeting, financing was secured. We broke ground last year in mid-June. And just a little more than a year out, the project is done. It’s extraordinary.”
Hoch was quick to deflect credit to architect Caolo Bieniek & Associates and owner’s project manager Architectural Consulting Group as well as general contractor Salco Construction of Pittsfield.
“On time, on budget, high quality work, brought solutions to the table,” Hoch said of Salco. “Good stewards of our money. John Salvini was very cautious about why we needed to do things.”
Hoch also praised the work of Police Chief Kyle Johnson and Officer Mike Ziemba, who have been instrumental in planning and executing the project.
And Hoch recognized the work done in 2016 by the town’s Public Safety Building Study Committee, chaired by Select Board member Jane Patton, which laid the groundwork -- identifying the town’s needs and allowing Hoch to move forward quickly when the Turner House site came on the market.
“We also did receive a significant gift toward construction,” Hugh Daley added.
“$400,000 from Williams College,” Thomas said, also noting a grant from the commonwealth that helped fund the communications tower at the Simonds Road facility. “Thanks to those things and Jason’s planning, no new taxes.
“It’s really worth seeing. It’s an example of a municipal building that’s built for function that looks terrific and fits the character of the town.”
Hoch said the department tentatively is planning an open house at the new station for Aug. 6, to coincide with the National Night Out and another for the following Saturday.
Monday’s Select Board meeting was dominated by a discussion of whether the town should join the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership
and included a presentation from the executive director of the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation.
David McGowan talked about WRLF’s efforts to conserve and promote “forests, fields, farms and natural habitats of our region.”
He explained that the foundation owns 848 acres of conserved lands and owns conservation restrictions on 288 more acres.
He credited WRLF trails coordinator Dan Gura and his two-person crew for helping to maintain and blaze trails that open up opportunities to enjoy the town’s wooded areas, including a relatively new trail that links Margaret Lindley Park with picturesque Harmon Pond.
“Rural Lands has been a great partner with the town for a long time, and I’ve really enjoyed the work we’ve done for the last year with trails,” Hoch said. “I’m thrilled with what we’re seeing. It’s great to see the Berlin Mountain project moving.”
McGowan said one priority for the foundation in the near future is completing a 36-mile “ring trail” that creates northern and southern links between the Taconic Crest on the west side of town and the Appalachian Trail to the east.
“If you look at the TAM trail in Middlebury, Vt., it’s been around for 10 or 15 years and is a very popular trail,” McGowan said. “We’re looking to emulate that.”
The foundation also is looking to do some rebranding, McGowan said. It is working with Trampoline Design, a marketing firm in Glens Falls, N.Y., whose clients have included the Adirondack Council in New York.
In other business on Monday, the Select Board approved the transfer of the liquor license for the Spirit Shoppe on Cole Avenue to Raahi Liquors, Inc., Sureshkumar Patel, manager.