Lanesborough Select Board Supports Public Safety Building Plan
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Select Board has endorsed the nearly $6 million public safety building proposal that is subject to a special town meeting on Thursday.
Approval would authorize the town to raise the $5,989,100 to construct a complex for police and ambulance services at 405 South Main St., the driving range of the former Skyline Country Club.
The board's vote on Tuesday was unanimous to support the project after two residents submitted petitions asking for the three members to publicly state their stance.
Board member Timothy Sorrell's decision comes from his perspective as the town's former police chief and as a taxpayer.
"It needs to be done. This town needs it," he said. "I know people are worried about the expense of it but I think it's only going to be more costlier and this is the best option for the town."
"I would also like to state that I am in support of the police station," John Goerlach added.
"I would like to see it be a couple million less but what they've come up with is an adequate building for what the chief and the ambulance service needs so I think the community needs to move forward and get this project going."
Michael Murphy sees it as a sound proposal and hopes that voters will come to the Lanesborough Elementary School at 6 p.m. on Thursday to vote "yes" on the article.
"So if anybody is questioning my personal position, I am totally in support," he said.
A steering committee was established to work on this proposal over the past year. After it was determined that the ambulance service would be added, designs were presented to the board late last year.
The 7,300-square-foot design by architect Brian Humes would include two ambulance bays, a police sally port, sleeping quarters, offices, locker room and private changing and shower stalls, an emergency management center, and an in-house training room.
The site formerly housed the country club's driving range and is owned by Pittsfield's Mill Town Capital.
The town has received $1 million from the state for the project, leaving the current taxpayer burden at $4.9 million, and the Baker Hill Road District is contributing $150,000 for the property purchase. Accepting the road district's money is the first question on Thursday's warrant.
With a 40-year U.S. Department of Agriculture loan at a 3.7 percent interest, property owners will see an annual increase of between $46 and $183 on their tax bill.
In advance of the special town meeting, the committee held virtual and in-person public hearing where a 45-minute-long pre-recorded presentation of the proposal was reviewed.
Residents have raised concerns about the location, the proposed use of heat pumps in the building, the addition of the ambulance (a separate department employed by the town), the shared locker room, the perception that the decision is being made to fast and, especially, the cost to taxpayers.
A proposal by the owners of the former Berkshire Mall to locate the station there is not being seriously considered by the board at this time because of its lack of specifics and the current condition of the vacant building, which is not in compliance with health and building codes.
Last week, the Finance Committee voted in support of the town warrant article with Chair Jodi-Lee Szczepaniak-Locke in opposition, wishing that the project could be done in stages.
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