Friday February 22, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- It took the town more than three decades to decide how to address its outdated police and fire stations, and Town Meeting Representatives finally approved a $14 million bond for the project in October.

Now, as the project moves ahead and the town looks forward to the upcoming construction season, a call is going out for volunteers to serve on a Police-Fire Facility Committee to help oversee the financial and technical aspects of the project.

The town wants to establish a seven member ad hoc committee that would meet regularly when construction gets under way and provide reports to the Selectboard.

A similar committee was set up to help with the $32 million wastewater treatment plant project, which is expected to finish up this spring on budget and very close to the projected completion date.

Selectboard Vice Chairman David Gartenstein said he hopes the Police-Fire Facility Committee will offer similar assistance to the board and help move the complicated project along with as little disruption as possible.

"We want people who are interested in serving on this committee and overseeing the project from the beginning to the end," said Gartenstein. "It has been our experience that interested citizens are willing to give their time, and can play an important role in overseeing these projects."

Since the successful bond vote last year the town has sent out an RFP for a project manager and will soon be soliciting design bids for the three stations.

Gartenstein said the Selectboard wants to have the committee early in the process as decisions are being made.

"It would be good to have a committee in place to review the project manager bids when they come in," he said. "We hope the committee can assist us in finalizing the design and then putting the project out to bid."

The $14 million project includes upgrades to the police station, which is located in Town Hall, as well as to the Central Fire Station on Elliot Street and to the station in West Brattleboro.

The complicated project will have to proceed without disrupting emergency services and likely will include moving the staff into temporary sections of the buildings as construction crews upgrade the aging facilities.

At Town Hall the work also will affect the Planning Department, which will be moving to a new location in the building, and at the Elliot Street station a nearby building will be purchased and demolished to make way for the expanded station.

"It is a complex project and we have very specific needs and details for each of the three buildings," Gartenstein said. "We are not building something from scratch so the highway is not as clear. There will be a lot of details, as well as financial oversight and I hope anyone who is interested in seeing this project through will volunteer to participate."

Applications for serving on the subcommittee are available on the town’s website.

Interested residents also can send a letter of interest to the town manager, or send an email to tmsecretary@brattleboro.org.

Applications are due by 5 p.m. March 12 and the Selectboard will appoint the members at a meeting, probably after Representative Town Meeting, which is scheduled for March 23.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or hwtisman@reformer.com. You can follow him on Twitter @HowardReformer.