Greenfield mayor, police chief look to fund Police Station renovations

  • Greenfield’s mayor and police chief are asking City Council to approve $1,350,000 in the fiscal year 2022 capital budget to start upgrading and renovating the Police Station on High Street, pictured. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Greenfield Police Chief Robert Haigh Jr. in his office at the Police Station on High Street. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 4/7/2021 5:10:30 PM

GREENFIELD — The mayor and police chief are asking City Council to approve $1,350,000 in the fiscal year 2022 capital budget to start upgrading and renovating the Police Station on High Street.

Mayor Roxann Wedegartner said the work is necessary for several reasons. The city chose not to build a public safety complex that would include police for at least the next 10 years, so work will need to be done not only for the benefit of officers, but for accreditation.

“This begins necessary renovations to our Police Department building to maintain the important accreditation and safety,” she said. “In our five-year capital budget from last year, there was a sum of $5 million to renovate the building. It was resubmitted this year by Chief Robbie Haigh (Jr.). Because the city decided not to build a public safety complex, repairs are going to have to happen.

“The Capital Improvement Committee has lowered this year’s amount and spread the remaining amount over three years to stay within the city’s borrowing limits,” she continued. “We really need to begin these repairs in FY22.”

Wedegartner said $100,000 would come from the city’s Capital Stabilization account, while the rest would be borrowed.

The High Street building was a medical office before the Police Department moved into it, and it hasn’t been upgraded since 1998. Some of next fiscal year’s money would be used to hire an architect/engineer to assess the cost of repairs needed over the next several years. Then, she said, those repairs will be prioritized.

Haigh said the sally port, for instance, was built as a temporary building; it’s not part of the main building. He said its doors have had to be replaced in the past, and water gets underneath and causes problems.

“The booking room is not set up for police safety or anyone else’s safety,” he said. “It’s tight quarters and people shouldn’t be in such close proximity (with or without a pandemic).”

Haigh said the cell block was “grandfathered” when police moved into the building.

“Every year we get a letter from the state saying our cell blocks don’t meet current standards,” he said. “And we now have a female supervisor and female officers, and that population is only going to continue to grow, so we need a locker room. Right now we can’t provide that to her.”

Haigh said dispatchers work out of a very small room with no natural lighting.

“They spend their entire shift inside of what is essentially a closet,” he said. “That’s not a good environment.”

There are also some security issues, which he doesn’t want to discuss publicly.

“If the council votes this money, we’d split the work into three years,” he said. “I’d like to see us take care of the security issues during the first year, as well as the upgrade to our communications room, where our new radio system and other equipment is kept. I’d also like to move the dispatchers and create a locker room for females.”

Haigh said once those issues are taken care of and other priorities have been decided, other work would happen in the second and third years.

“This is definitely a top-priority project,” Wedegartner said.

The full City Council, after it receives a recommendation from its Ways and Means Committee, expects to vote on the fiscal year 2022 capital budget later this month.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or afritz@recorder.com.




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