SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

January 17, 2014

Town looks to share dispatch services

HAMILTON — The town is reaching out to Ipswich and Manchester-by-the-Sea to explore the possibility of combining dispatch centers.

The move has been in the works for years, since Wenham’s decision to leave the Hamilton center and join the new, $10 million regional dispatch center in Middleton. Hamilton officials had also looked into joining the regional center but decided against it.

Town Manager Michael Lombardo said the town put out a request for quotes to determine the probable cost of hiring a private firm to prepare a report on combining the centers. New Hampshire-based Municipal Resources Inc. was the only company to respond to the request.

Before a firm is hired, Lombardo said he will have discussions with Ipswich Town Manager Robin Crosbie and Manchester Town Administrator Gregory Federspiel. The work would include looking into infrastructure and technology, “so we have good information to consider some sort of regional effort or other solutions,” Lombardo said.

”We need to decide if this is worth moving forward with,” he said.

Crosbie said Ipswich is interested in exploring the idea further, but thinks the town should look into possible grants to pay for the consultant.

Marc Johnson, chairman of the Hamilton Board of Selectmen, said hiring such a firm would be one of the first steps to see if the project is feasible.

”It is to evaluate systems and to write a report to share with town managers and administrators to see it they are compatible,” he said.

Last year, selectmen voted to spend an additional $180,000 to run the town’s dispatch center alone after Wenham switched to the regional dispatch center in June. Police Chief Russell Stevens, dispatcher Anne Marie Cullen, fire Chief Philip Stevens and Lombardo all recommended that the town keep its own dispatch center.

Johnson said the board has been looking at options for combining services with surrounding towns since the vote was taken a year ago. Lombardo has been in charge of reaching out to other towns, he said.

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