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Chief urges Ashland selectmen to reconsider decision on police station


June 24, 2021
ASHLAND — At their June 21 meeting, the Ashland selectmen were asked by the

Police Chief to reconsider their decision to not move the Police Station to the Town Garage and Utility Building, but they did not change their minds. They authorized the Town Manager to apply recently authorised Federal grants, and dealt with a number of other issues.

At their June 6 meeting, the selectmen voted 3 to 2 to not move the Police Department from the Town Hall to the Town Garage and Utility Building. Police Chief Will Ulwick asked the Selectmen to reconsider that decision. He had not been able to attend the June 6 meeting and wanted the opportunity to explain the plan. He explained that the

Police Department has a serious shortage of space in its present cramped quarters. He noted the general lack of space, the small size of offices, and the need for more storage. The conference room shared with the Town Offices also serves as the interview and interrogation room for the Police. It is not sound proofed as such a room needs to be. The police cruisers have to be left outside. The Town offices are also short of space. The LCHIP study of the Town Hall had recommended moving the Police Department out of the building. The least expensive option for getting more and better space for the Police seemed to be to move them into the partly empty Garage and Utility Building, using the former utility offices and part of the upper-level garage. The

former interim Town Manager approved the hiring of an architect to redesign the building for Police use. The Chief stopped the design process when the Selectmen decided against the move. He asked the selectmen to reconsider their decisions to not move his department and instead to return the utility clerks from the Town Hall to their

former office.

The selectmen, including those who voted for the change of plans, were sympathetic to the Police Department's needs. Bob Letoureau, who voted to drop the plan to move the Police Station, said that there was no doubt that the Police needed new space, and

even suggested a new Public Safety complex for both the Police and Fire Departments. But he did not feel that the proposed move was the right step to take. He noted that the present setup for utility payments in the Town Hall did not comply with ADA requirements, and that many people he had talked with wanted the Utility Office to move

back to its old quarters.

Town Manager Fred Welch felt the Garage and Utility Building was not built for police uses. He spoke of the need to find a solution for the Police Department and to find it soon, and suggested that USDA funds for rural communities might be used. He

also noted that there is no space in the Town Hall for the two new employees the Town is hiring, so somebody has to leave.

No motion was made to reconsider the prior votes. The move of the utility clerks to

their old offices will continue. Chairman Eli Badger noted that would take about $1000 in Internet improvements, as well furniture, cleaning, etc. Welch said that the process of moving the utility clerks would start the next day

The Town Manager reported that the new Federal Emergency Relief and Recovery Funds would allocate an amount in the vicinity of $200,000 for Ashland for such things as broadband, water and sewer systems, etc., but that an application for those funds must be submitted by Aug. 18. The selectmen authorized Welch to prepare a

proposal for those Federal funds.

One more Covid restriction went away when the selectmen approved Ann Barney's request to remove the limit of only 75 people on the town beach at any one time. She pointed out that when the summer camp went there two days a week, they would bring 40 children plus staff, leaving only twenty or so spaces for others who wanted to use the

beach.

A commendation to Matthew Jolin, who won the 2021 2nd Congressional District art competition, was read aloud by Welch and signed by the selectmen. The selectmen voted to formally approve the previously discussed upgrade of the telephone system in the Town Hall. Welch reported that more exploratory work has to be done on the Fire Station foundation before plans for its repair can be finalized. On the new meters being considered for the electric system, the Town Manager suggested waiting for the new Electric Superintendent who he indicated would be appointed soon. The selectmen approved the 5K foot race to be held on North Ashland Road by the Fourth of July Committee on the morning of the 4th. Because the Fourth of July falls on a Sunday, town employees will have Monday, July 5, off and the Town Office will be closed. The selectmen approved a raffle sponsored by the Ashland Historical Society and the free barbecue meals to be served by the Ashland Community Church at the ballfield this summer. Once again, the selectmen, at the urging of the Town Manager and the Tax

Collector, decided to not require property owners to fill out annual tax inventory forms. They signed an intent to cut timber and ended their meeting with a non-public session.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
varney
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