Northfield Selectboard to interview for emergency services facility project manager

Staff Writer
Published: 9/26/2021 3:00:52 PM

NORTHFIELD — The Selectboard will interview two candidates for an owner’s project manager on Tuesday as it continues progress toward establishing a shared emergency services facility.

During the most recent Selectboard meeting on Sept. 21, Chair Heath Cummings, who is also on the town’s Emergency Services Facility Committee, spoke to the latest project developments. Selectboard members were given information on two company candidates who will be interviewed for the role of owner’s project manager for a new facility’s development.

“This is really exciting and something that I’m feeling proud about being a part of,” said Cummings, himself a former Northfield police officer. “Us as the board, we are closer than we’ve ever been to actually having a public safety building coming to reality.”

He said this is a great accomplishment for Northfield’s public safety departments, as “every one of our three departments has to deal with inadequate facilities,” especially the Police Department. For a town of its size, Cummings said Northfield has “one of the worst, if not the worst,” police stations in the county. The current station is a small office space in the basement of Northfield Town Hall.

“Towns much smaller than us with much less going on have better facilities to handle things, so it’s really great that we’re moving closer and closer to having that move forward,” Cummings said.

The Selectboard will meet Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 5:45 p.m. for two interviews with owner’s project manager candidates. Town Administrator Andrea Llamas said that out of five respondents to the town’s request for qualifications (RFQ), both Construction Monitoring Services (CMS) and Colliers International were recommended by the Emergency Services Facility Committee as qualified candidates.

Colliers International was recently hired as the project manager for Bernardston’s Fire Station addition project. Northfield Selectboard member Alexander Meisner also noted that CMS was the owner’s project manager for Montague’s new Department of Public Works building, which opened in 2020.

Cummings said the Emergency Services Facility Committee has expressed interest in potentially pursuing construction of the shared facility on an undeveloped lot of land owned by the Snow family — which also owns the Northfield Golf Club — along Main Street just north of Dickinson Memorial Library. Llamas said that once hired, the owner’s project manager will assess the viability of this site before the town considers purchasing the land. The owner’s project manager will also help the town hire an architect to design the building and put out a bid for construction.

Also during the Sept. 21 Selectboard meeting, Sara Concannon with the Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management at the University of Massachusetts Boston spoke to a recent survey conducted among Northfield’s public safety departments. The collected data will be used during an October public forum to provide residents with an understanding of how each department operates, as well as an understanding of what they may need for future development. Llamas said the survey was conducted with “fortuitous timing,” considering Northfield is looking to build a shared emergency services facility for its Police, EMS and Fire departments.

“It looked like an opportunity to talk about all three of these departments, especially since you are going to be putting them all in one building,” Llamas said. “It seemed an opportunity to discuss the future of the departments, what people wanted in the departments, and how they saw themselves and their own ability to grow.”

She noted the continued growth of Northfield EMS as it hires new paramedics and expands coverage to Erving. Llamas also referred to the ongoing process of hiring a new police chief, and said more changes could come as Fire Chief Floyd “Skip” Dunnell III is currently operating under an extension granted by Town Meeting voters to work beyond the age of 65. In accordance with state law, he will need to retire by the time he is 70.

A public forum is planned for Wednesday, Oct. 20, at Pioneer Valley Regional School at a time yet to be determined. The forum will present more information from these public safety department surveys and gather feedback from Northfield residents.

Zack DeLuca can be reached
at zdeluca@recorder.com or
413-930-4579.




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