, Salem, MA

Local News

March 1, 2014

Ipswich police chief determined to get station study

IPSWICH — Police Chief Paul Nikas is renewing his push for $100,000 to complete a feasibility study into the possibility of building a combined police and fire station on town-owned land on Elm and South Main streets.

Selectmen rejected his proposal to bring the issue to Special Town Meeting voters last fall. A tie 2-2 vote meant the motion failed.

The proposal will be brought up again at Monday night’s selectmen meeting, but it is unclear whether the chief will get enough support from the board this time around. Several members have expressed opposition, while others say they need more time and information.

Nikas said it’s important to get the process started, even though it may take years before any construction starts. The study will determine if the site near the current police station is suitable for the proposed building. The $100,000 will help pay for an architect, structural engineering, an environmental study and a traffic study, among other things.

“We need a professional firm to come and either confirm it is doable or have them say, ‘No you can’t,’” he said. “If that is the case, we need to move on and find alternatives.”

The request for services will be broken up to provide the town flexibility.

“If it is found the site will not work, based on these studies, we won’t be paying for everything,” Nikas said.

The town-owned land would be the best location to reach the majority of the town’s population within a eight-minute response time, he said.

Selectman Bill Craft, who voted against the pitch, said he’s concerned that the feasibility study might be premature. However, he remains open-minded about the chief’s proposal, he said.

“I think we might be creating an expectation that can’t be met in the near future,” he said, in terms of constructing a new building. “It might be better to postpone the study.”

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