DANVERS — A consultant has presented the town with various options to expand the police station on Ash Street to replace the outdated dispatch center inside with an addition onto the building.
As yet, no price tag has been set on the work, said Assistant Town Manager Diane Norris, who sits on a feasibility study committee looking at a new dispatch center at the police station.
It’s a project that Norris said she hopes will be presented to the May Annual Town Meeting next year. If a new communications center is built in Danvers, it will be built in such a way that another community can join it and share the dispatch facility, she said.
Selectmen have decided against joining the new Essex County Regional Communications Center at Middleton Jail on Manning Avenue out of concern about cost and an expansion of the bureaucracy there.
In the meantime, the town is dealing with the need to improve its aging public safety communications infrastructure. Dispatchers now work in a cramped room, while networking and communications equipment sits below them, under water pipes in the basement.
After meeting with fire and police officials over the past several months, the consultant has recommended three options for an addition on to the police station. A committee that includes Norris and Selectwoman Diane Langlais will look at the options.
“They have really done the program for the dispatch improvements, so they have been able to listen to all of that, and from that draw up some options,” Norris said.
The construction of a new communications center may also be a chance to address deficiencies at the police station, so the work will come with various options, Norris said.
This includes increasing the number of men’s and women’s bathrooms and lockers, and replacing single-pane windows that are old and in need of repair. Regardless of the size of a new dispatch center, the work will trigger the need to install fire sprinklers throughout the police station. Addressing all the options is what Norris called “Option 1.”