Leyden Public Safety Advisory Committee prepares draft of regionalization grant application

  • Leyden Public Safety Advisory Committee Chair Elizabeth Kidder presents a first draft of a state Efficiency and Regionalization grant application at Wednesday’s meeting. Screenshot

Staff Writer
Published: 1/21/2022 9:27:56 PM
Modified: 1/21/2022 9:26:51 PM

LEYDEN — The Public Safety Advisory Committee prepared a “first, working draft” of an Efficiency and Regionalization grant application as the town prepares to seek funding for a public safety feasibility study.

If money is granted to Leyden, the town would plan to partner with the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management to “define the oversight, operations, finance training and certification, and insurance liabilities for various options for each department that Leyden could choose from,” the grant application outlines. The Collins Center, which is subsidized by the state, provides various services to towns across Massachusetts and will receive some of the grant funding as compensation for undertaking the feasibility study.

While briefing the committee on the application Wednesday, Chair Elizabeth Kidder said the grant application’s goal is to paint a picture on the status of Leyden’s emergency services and what work would be expected from the Collins Center.

The grant application is due Feb. 10. If approved, Leyden could receive up to $100,000 from Efficiency and Regionalization grant program, according to the state website.

“Leyden, like all towns in Mass., is faced with regulatory changes,” Kidder said. “The town of Leyden is ready to assess all options for sharing or regionalizing these services.”

Kidder said the draft grant application is based on an outline of the Wendell-Leverett agreement that created a shared policing service between the two towns.

Diving into some of the specific details, Kidder said the creation of a substation for emergency services in Leyden should be added into the application because advisers from the Collins Center said capital improvement proposals can help sway the state toward granting the money.

“It makes the grant even more competitive if there’s capital improvement,” Kidder explained. “In (Leverett-Wendell’s) grant proposal, they put about $80,000 to renovate that facility so there is a real substation in Wendell.”

Kidder said the creation of a substation in the town offices would involve renovating the current emergency operations center (EOC) that could be used in the case of a disaster. She added additional EOCs are always helpful and brought up the example of Conway’s EOC being one of the buildings struck by the 2017 tornado that ripped through the town.

“Having an EOC is an advantage,” Kidder said. “If something happened to Bernardston’s Police Department, they could move to Leyden. It creates emergency redundancies.”

While she brought up Bernardston’s Police Department in the example and the Public Safety Advisory Committee has previously worked on a draft shared-policing agreement between the two towns, Kidder emphasized there are no concrete plans for the future of emergency services in Leyden.

“We’re not looking at going with a specific town right now,” she said. “This feasibility study does not commit Leyden to any agreement.”

Fellow committee members and emergency service representatives in attendance agreed the regionalization grant approach is the best opportunity for Leyden to improve public safety.

“Regionalizing a police department f or us is the only logical way to go,” said committee member Emily Yazwinski. “There’s so many rules  and regulations that have to be followed now that the officer-in-charge and selectmen don’t have the time and knowledge to deal with.”

Ana Zaveruha, who talked to the committee about the town’s emergency medical services, said the grant would be a great way to go as many areas in the state are trending toward regionalization.

“There are grants out there because the state knows the towns are drowning,” Zaveruha said. “That’s the future, regionalization.”

Selectboard member Erica Jensen, who has attended each meeting, said the Public Safety Advisory Committee is able to apply for any grants, as long as the town is not required to put money toward matching them.

“My understanding is … committees are allowed to apply for grants as long as there is no town match required,” Jensen said. “When the grant comes in, the Selectboard has to vote to accept the money.”

The Public Safety Advisory Committee is not slated to meet again until Wednesday, Feb. 2, at 6 p.m., but Kidder will be appearing before the Selectboard at its Jan. 24 meeting. Until the next meeting, Kidder said she will be working on the grant application and communicating with other town officials.

The seven-member Public Safety Advisory Committee, of which members were appointed by the town moderator, was convened by the Selectboard at a Nov. 8 meeting and charged with the task of reviewing Leyden’s public safety needs. The committee is for planning and advisory only, and any recommendations must be approved by the Selectboard.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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