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Medford seeks upgrade on run-down police station

Posted by Kathy McCabe  April 4, 2012 10:04 AM

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Six firms interested in designing a new Medford police station spent two hours on Tuesday touring the building on Main Street to determine if it should be rebuilt or replaced.

"There were a lot of heads shaking as they walked through the building," Police Chief Leo Sacco said Tuesday night at a meeting of the City Council's public safety subcommittee. "I think they were surprised by the conditions."

The police station, built in 1962, is plagued by black mold on ceilings and asbestos hanging from boiler pipes. Flooding ruined an evidence storage room, and the cell block is nearly unusable.

"It' not humane living quarters," Councilor Paul Camuso said.

Mayor Michael J. McGlynn has proposed building a new public safety complex as part of a $28 million capital building plan called "Chart the Course." Medford police and fire departments share a building on Main Street. An assessment of conditions in the Fire Department was conducted last June. The city now is looking to identify the needs of a modern police station.

The city issued a request for qualifications for firms to conduct a feasibility study. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, April 11, at 3 p.m. The study will determine whether the police station should be renovated, expanded, or replaced. An assessment of modern policing need must be included, along with funding options to pay for the project.

"They're going to take into account what size the staff is today and what the size could be in future years," Sacco said. "It's going to be built for today's policing needs."

Firms also must identify potential sites on which to build a new station, if the current station can't be renovated or replaced on that site. A new public safety building would have to be about 33,000 square feet, Sacco said.

Councilor Richard Caraviello, the subcommittee chairman, suggested the former site of a bakery, behind a Stop & Shop on the Fellsway. But he also noted that the City Council doesn't have the authority to purchase property for a public building. "We may only make suggestions," he said.

Councilor Robert Penta suggested two locations on Mystic Avenue. A 43,000 square foot building at 170 Mystic Ave. is for sale for $1.7 million, while a piece of land at 53-63 Mystic Ave. is available for lease for $975,000, he said.

Penta also suggested an acre of state-owned land off Route 16 that is adjacent to the city's public works garage. "That would be an interesting opportunity for the city," he said.

On Winthrop Street, Temple Shalom and the city's war memorials were built on state land, he said. A school complex was built on state land near Hormel Stadium.

Kathy McCabe can be reached at kmccabe@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe.

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