As we all know, the town has a long list of capital projects that need attention. In the immediate future, there’s an override vote for road reconstruction in June. At B2, our attention is focused on the Wellington School, which is in the process of being approved for funding from the State and could come up for a vote to approve a debt exclusion in November.
In recent years, the town has tackled a number of other large, capital projects, including a rehab of the Chenery Middle School, construction of two new fire stations and an overhaul of Town Hall. The Belmont Citizen Herald provides a whirlwind tour of all that, as well as some good background on the political debate that surrounded those projects.
One proposed project that has been getting more attention recently is the construction of a new police headquarters to replace the current building, on Concord Ave., which dates to the 1930s. Various proposals have been floated, including reconstruction on the current site, on a new site (Trapelo Rd. adjacent to the Fire Dept. HQ has been proposed) or, more recently, in the building that currently serves as the town’s library. That later plan could kill two birds with one stone: giving the BPD a fine building in a prime location that would fit its space needs (and kinda look like a police station, to boot), saving the town money, and giving the town the motivation to build a new main branch — possibly across the street.
The question some might ask is: do we really need a new police headquarters? The answer, according to new Chief Richard McLaughlin is “absolutely!” McLaughlin has been trying to raise the profile of the space and resource problems facing the BPD in its current building, including an open house earlier this year that was complicated by some inclement weather. Not long after that, BloggingBelmont reached out to the Chief to see if we could arrange a virtual tour for our readers, and he gladly complied. Scheduling back and forth kept it from happening for a few weeks, but in early April I finally got a chance to walk over and do the tour.
The bottom line: the BPD is operating in an aging facility that is short on space and ill suited to the needs of a modern police force. From the holding cells that look like set pieces from The Untouchables, to a shortage of interview rooms (police often have to interview witnesses in the commissary for lack of space), to the severe shortage of storage space for all the paper that is the byproduct of day to day police work.
This video, the first of two (or maybe three), highlights some of the challenges facing the BPD in its current location. Enjoy!
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