Study is 'next step' for relocating police, fire stations

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WILMINGTON — Property previously home to the town garage across from the Old School Enrichment Center, above where recycling bins had been on Beaver Street, is considered the preferred location for a new police and fire station.

"This site is seen as advantageous for several reasons: It is town owned, it has access to both water and sewer, and is located centrally in the downtown/village," Town Manager Scott Tucker wrote in an email Sunday.

He said the Wilmington Public Safety Facility Committee will draft a request for proposals to determine site feasibility. The committee meets Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Last week, the Select Board unanimously voted to support the committee's recommendation to proceed with siting the facility where the town garage had formerly been located. A feasibility study will be "the next step," according to minutes from the board meeting.

The committee was created in July 2018 to work closely with the town manager and the town's economic development consultant to "identify grants, expertise and funding sources in support of construction of a new Wilmington Public Safety Facility," according to a resolution that the Select Board passed to establish the group. The committee is to recommend an architectural group for the study then a construction firm to build a new facility "with significant energy efficiencies, balancing 21st century professional police and fire department needs with taxpayers expectations for return on investment over 50 years."

Part of the project calls for bringing the stations out of the floodplain. The idea has been around at least since Tropical Storm Irene landed in 2011, when downtown was hit hard by flood waters.

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Currently, the police station is on East Main Street and the fire station is on Beaver Street.

According to minutes from last week's board meeting, Michele Doucette of Wilmington "feels that the town needs a town green space; as is stated in many of the reports that had been done after Tropical Storm Irene. She doesn't feel a five-bay building that would use up the whole lot is the best use of that space."

Meg Staloff, program coordinator for the downtown organization Wilmington Works, suggested that any part of developing the Beaver Street area include "a parallel master planning process to give a wide-angle look at the entire area and examine how to meet multiple community needs." She pointed to the Better Connections Grant program as a potential funding source.

"It includes looking at issues of traffic circulation, pedestrian access, and stormwater management and can provide a specific blueprint to guide future long-term development for our downtown," she said, according to prepared remarks she shared with the Reformer. "Previous studies have been more conceptual; this would be a practical planning process to move forward with over the long range."

Staloff said planning for the area is not intended to slow down efforts to build a public safety facility. She also serves on the Wilmington Planning Commission.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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