SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

February 4, 2013

Study first step in upgrade of Danvers dispatch center

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — DANVERS — The town is moving ahead with a feasibility study for the renovation and expansion of its outdated public safety communications and dispatch center presently housed at the police station.

Town Manager Wayne Marquis recently appointed police Chief Neil Ouellette, Assistant Town Manager Diane Norris, Department of Public Works Operations Director Bob Lee and fire Chief Kevin Farrell to a designer selection committee to rate proposals from four consultants who have applied to do the study.

In 2009, selectmen opted not to join the Essex County Regional Emergency Communication Center, a $10 million state-funded project now nearing completion at Middleton Jail. Selectman Keith Lucy has been critical about this center due to its potential cost to member communities; the expansion at the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, which will run the new center; and a lack of a redundant center as part of a regional plan. Lucy favors creating smaller regional communication centers instead.

To that end, Town Meeting appropriated $40,000 for a feasibility study to upgrade Danvers public safety communications.

Ouellette said the push to improve Danvers communications, which are housed at the police station at 120 Ash St., dates back to 2006. The police station communications room is cramped, its equipment is old and needs updating, and its information technology components are housed in the basement under pipes, inappropriate for a modern, accredited department, Ouellette said.

“We are at a very early stage” of the process, Norris said. “We know we have to upgrade dispatch, both because of limited space and old equipment. So the first step you do in this is a feasibility study.”

Norris said the study will not provide a design of a facility but will give the town options to enlarge its communications capacity, upgrade its equipment and possibly become a regional facility. Norris said the town does not have a partner community in mind if it does decide to create a regional dispatch center.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.