Lanesborough to Redesign Police Station Plans After Community Feedback

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — After significant community feedback on what the town proposed initially, the Board of Selectmen plans to reduce the scope of the proposed new police station.


"Chief [Robert] Derksen and I met and went over a few things to try and scale back the building," said Chairman John Goerlach at the board's meeting last week. After some discussion, the board voted to have Brian Humes of Jacunski Humes Architects to redesign the project to help resolve community concerns.


The board and Jacunski Humes Architects, of Berlin, Conn., showcased plans for the proposed 4,700 square foot police station, which would cost an estimated $4.35 million, at a public hearing on Nov. 16. Concerns expressed by residents included the project's location at Bill Laston Memorial Park, its size and its cost. 


Goerlach said there are several ways in which the size of the building can be reduced and still meet the needs of the Police Department. Another possibility, he said, to reduce the footprint of the building is having a basement or second story, rather than having the whole station on one level. 


"Building wise, chief said that one spot we could reduce is the processing area, instead of having two locations only have one stamp. That's a small square footage change," Goerlach said. "The second would be the break room. The other spot he had said was the officer's workstations. That he didn't need five and to reduce that down to three." 


Derksen said he is more than happy to work with people to make the new police station fit better with what the community wants. 


"A lot of work went into this, and I fully respect the needs assessment. But obviously, attending that meeting, there are two issues," he said. "The town or at least residents that attended the meeting didn't seem to like the location. And obviously, I don't think anyone likes the cost of it. So those were the two primary factors. So I'm willing to do whatever it takes to brainstorm to modify any plan or idea to get something implemented because, obviously, the need is dire." 


Goerlach said he thinks using the current police station location, 8 Prospect St., as the site for the new building is a realistic solution to resident concerns. When asked by Selectman Gordon Hubbard about the feasibility of that location, Derksen said there are several issues. 


"Every location is going to have its pros and cons. The current location, obviously the thing that I would be most concerned about is parking, just because of the footprint of the building on the size of that location," he said. "And the other drawback would be, we would have to have some sort of temporary housing, you'd have to find a temporary location for us to be while it was constructed. But again, I'm receptive to anything and certainly willing to investigate anything as a possibility." 


Selectman Michael Murphy said he's worried using the current police station location will not reduce the cost by a significant amount. He thinks finding a temporary station for the police to operate during construction could be expensive. 


"If we're trying to reduce the cost by reducing the size of the building and putting it on a piece of property we already own, what we might be saving cost-wise we could be spending to find that temporary location," he said. "Not that I'm against that, but it still could come close to that number that everybody is so afraid of."


Humes was present at the meeting and said, of the available sites for the new police station, the Bill Laston Memorial Park location still has the least amount of potential issues. 


"I was hoping that coming out of the meeting, there would be another great site that shows up, and everybody can jump onto it. But if we don't have one, we don't have one," he said. 


Humes said he understands the community's concerns about the project and hopes he can solve any issues with the new design.


"Listening to the chief, I think it's important that we just keep the conversation going," he said. "I don't think that doing nothing is the answer. I think that the need is dire, and I want to help to the best I can and get to a solution that the town accepts. And I think that it was obvious at the meeting that everybody agreed that you need to find a solution, but the current site that was being proposed and the cost seem to be the two areas that needed to be worked on."

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Lanesborough Finance Committee Weighs in on Special Town Meeting Articles

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Finance Committee reviewed the warrant articles submitted for the upcoming special town meeting at noon on Saturday, Jan. 22.

The town meeting, slated to be at the Lanesborough Elementary School, will allow residents to discuss and act upon 15 warrant articles. The contents of these warrant articles are available on the town website.

The board voted to recommend each of the warrant articles discussed. Several of the articles, including articles one, two, three, five, seven, eight and 12, involve the use of free cash, totaling $584,737.26.

Article 2, the most significant free cash expense at $335,000 if approved, would be used to replace the sidewalk and curb on Summer Street from Route 7 to the Lanesborough Elementary School. Town Administrator Joshua Lang said the price came from a quote the town received on the project, noting they plan to look for grant funding to lower this cost further.

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