Tuesday May 14, 2013

WILMINGTON -- Town Manager Scott Murphy visited the Green Mountain Power building recently, which is in very early stages of consideration for use as the new home for the police department.

"It’s a really nice building," said Murphy. "It’s kind of an ideal spot to relocate them if it worked out."

On May 8, Murphy told the Selectboard that Green Mountain Power offered to sell the building, on Haystack Road, to the town for the Wilmington Police Department to use. It is still in an early discussion phase, but Green Mountain Power told Murphy that the board can make an offer if it would like the building.

Murphy asked Selectboard members if he should pursue the eventual purchase of the building.

Currently, the town is looking into co-relocation of the police department and fire department. The board sought a Community Development Grant Block Disaster Recovery grant that would assist with conducting a feasibility study.

These tests would look at a few different locations where both departments could perhaps move into together.

Since Tropical Storm Irene, the Selectboard has been looking into relocation because both buildings had flooding issues during the storm, which left the town and its residents even more vulnerable.

Murphy said the outcome of the co-relocation study grant application would be announced at the next Selectboard meeting.

He also told the board that he thought the Green Mountain Power building would be considered during the study if the town receives the grant. This feasibility study would "hopefully be done by the summer," said Murphy.

In the meantime, he told the Selectboard that he would go back to the Green Mountain Power representatives and inquire about maintenance costs for the building. Murphy also will ask about the timing for selling it and let them know about the potential feasibility study timeline.

"It sounds like the way to go," said Selectboard member Jake White. He told Murphy to speak with Wilmington Police Chief Joe Szarejko to see if it is something the police department would be interested in.

Selectboard member Diane Chapman was concerned about the price of relocating to the site. She also mentioned that the police department needs to move out of its current location because it’s too small.

Board member Jim Burke told Murphy that renovations would need to be done at the Green Mountain Power building, which would incur costs. He said he didn’t think it would cost $100,000.

A wall would need to be broken down and there would need to be a section made of steel where the police department could safely put things, Burke added.

When discussing the possibility of purchasing the building, Selectboard member Susie Haughtwout thought the board should be careful in what terms should be used for the discussions between Green Mountain Power and the Selectboard.

"I may call it exploration, not a negotiation," she said. "I wonder if they’d entertain a conversation about costs of maintaining the building and what we could buy it at, starting at zero."

Murphy told the board that as is, the building would not fit the emergency services, police and fire departments.

"The footprint of the property would allow for expansion and that’s where we might benefit from (purchasing it)," he said.

Haughtwout pointed out that the Green Mountain Power building abuts property currently owned by the town.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.