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Police-fire project heads into final stages

For updates on the police and fire facilities upgrade project, visit

BRATTLEBORO—Town Manager Peter B. Elwell said the two remaining police and fire station projects are “still going smoothly.”

At the July 11 regular Selectboard meeting, Elwell gave his regular update on the $12.8 million projects.

He also asked the Board to approve $159,306.60 in extra expenditures to help move the work along. The Selectboard unanimously agreed — minus the absent David Schoales.

One component of the extra funding the Board approved is to pay Project Manager Steve Horton more money.

“Steve has done an excellent job” working with architects, contractors, and other project-related professionals, Elwell said.

Horton is likely to exhaust his contracted amount before the project is finished because “we leaned on him pretty heavily,” Elwell said.

Thus, he said, the Selectboard should allocate more funds to pay him.

They agreed.

“Steve has saved the town much more money than he has cost the town in the execution of this project,” Elwell said. One example: Horton saved Brattleboro between $50,000 and $100,000 on the purchase of emergency generators.

Because the town doesn’t maintain engineering or construction management personnel on staff, “it’s important on a large, complicated project like this to [...] rely on contracted services to represent our interests,” Elwell said.

The plan, Elwell said, is for the Brattleboro Police Department to move into the new station at 62 Black Mountain Road “a few departments at a time,” and “remain fully functional throughout the move.”

Selectboard Chair Kate O’Connor asked Elwell for an explanation on how the dispatch department’s move will occur while still ensuring public safety. While dispatch is moving, she asked, will someone answer the calls?

“Yes,” Elwell said.

Some of the additional funding the Selectboard approved was to pay for new dispatch equipment. “The dispatch equipment here [in the municipal center] is old,” Elwell said. “It has some useful life left, but not a lot of it.”

Keeping it “made the move more cumbersome and more risky,” he said.

By installing new equipment at the new station at 62 Black Mountain Road, dispatch can operate in the current police station in the municipal center until the moment when the new equipment is ready to go on line.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #419 (Wednesday, August 2, 2017).

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