The town’s new police station and a regional public safety communications center, which will also serve the towns of Wrentham, Plainville and Franklin, are slated to open in the coming weeks.
An open house for the facilities was held Wednesday morning at the site on Sharon Avenue, which is off Dedham Street (Route 1A) not far from Wrentham.
“It’s an exciting day,” said Norfolk selectmen Chairman James Lehan, who serves on the public safety building committee and served as master of ceremonies. “We’ve been trying to get a new police station for well over 15 years.”
Over 100 people turned out, and before and after a brief ceremony with remarks from various local and state officials, toured the renovated former commercial building Norfolk voters approved $1.8 million for in 2014.
The police station occupies the bottom floor, the communications center the second floor. An antenna tower sits in front of the building.
In the police station, there are numerous offices and meeting rooms, plenty of storage space including for evidence and records, the most modern prisoner cells, and even a forensics lab and armory. The ceremony was held in a large garage that many vehicles can fit into that state Rep. Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk, quipped may actually be larger than the old station.
It is night and day compared to the outdated and cramped building the police department shares with the fire department on Main Street.
“It’s a beautiful building, great facility,” Police Lt. Robert Shannon said. “I’m looking forward to working here.”
Residents were equally awed.
“It’s beautiful, gorgeous,” remarked Cheryl Kelley, wife of retired fire chief Bill Kelley.
The communications center is expected to improve efficiency and save money.
“It will be quite a benefit for all four towns,” Lehan said, mentioning mutual aid will be enhanced.
The second floor features a large dispatch area with numerous computerized stations for dispatchers that somewhat resembles mission control for NASA. There are more offices and even a classroom.
Groundbreaking for the police station and communications center took place in June 2017.
“It’s a very complex project,” Lehan said. “We had glitches.”
Town voters in 2016 approved a $12.2 million Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion for the new police station, and new fire station that can now be built at the public safety building site with the police department moving out.
“We had some cost overruns with the police station. We ran into a number of issues. We had some surprises,” Lehan said. “It’s a good six months behind schedule. We just had work our way through it.
“We still have funding to get the fire station done,” Lehan added.
About $5 million in state grants are paying for the Metacomet Regional Communications Center, and the other towns will be paying Norfolk rent.
“This is the first one of its type in the state for both police and a regional dispatch center,” Lehan said. “It’s been a challenge because it’s such a unique facility.”
Lehan singled out Norfolk’s facilities director, Matt Haffner, and building committee Chairman George Cronin for being instrumental in the projects along with other officials from the four towns.
“It’s a fantastic partnership,” said Franklin Town Administrator Jeff Nutting, who led the management team. “It’s a fantastic facility.”
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