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Lanesborough Shows Preliminary Plans for New Police Station
By Brian Rhodes, iBerkshires Staff
09:10AM / Wednesday, November 17, 2021
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Illustrations of what the police station would look like.

The new police station is proposed to be built at Laston Park but community members on Tuesday raised concerns over flooding in that area.

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Lanesborough's Board of Selectmen and nearly 40 residents gathered at Proprietor's Lodge in Pittsfield for a presentation and Q&A about the proposed new police station.

The new police station, as presented at the meeting, has an estimated budget of $4.35 million and would replace the town's current building at 8 Prospect St. The 4,700 square-foot facility, if approved in its current form, would be located in the Bill Laston Memorial Park and could begin construction as early as this coming spring.

The current police station, originally built in 1827, has numerous longstanding issues, including age, heating and lack of space, that a renovation cannot resolve.

"ADA requirements with this building are completely out the window," said Brian Humes of Jacunski Humes Architects, the firm working with Lanesborough to design the new station. "There's not even access, there are changes in floor levels throughout the building. ADA is about 40 years of effort, and this building still doesn't meet basic requirements for working conditions."

Humes presented the work his firm has done on the project over the last two years. Included in the presentation were preliminary floorplan designs, a breakdown of the proposed budget and details on sites the town has considered for the station.

Police Chief Robert Derksen said the new building would be a tremendous help to the police department. He said the new station would work better for both the police and the community as a whole.

"A lot of the things that you see here, although it may seem extravagant, some things are necessary," he said.

Humes said the plans presented at the meeting, including the location, are all subject to change based on feedback from the community, Lanesborough Police Department and the Board of Selectmen. Jacunski Humes Architecture has worked with several municipalities on police station projects throughout both Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Several people present at the meeting voiced concerns about the project's cost, potential increases in taxes, the location in relation to the area's floodplain and possible impact on activities at Bill Laston Memorial Park. Former selectman Robert Ericson said these issues, particularly its location near the floodplain, could cause significant problems in the future.

"If we put the building next to the floodplain that exists today, we will now have three facilities, The Fire Department, the town garage, and the police station, located just a few feet from harm's way," he said. "Now, that seems like a very foolish plan considering that the storms are getting more violent, and we just saw one two days ago with rain coming down harder than I've ever seen here."

Selectman Michael Murphy said he recognized community concerns about the project, explaining the board and Jacunski Humes Architecture will work to resolve these concerns.

"I supported the station that you're looking at today. I've also heard most of you, loud and clear, that you're not comfortable with that," Murphy said. "And I feel part of my job as a selectman is to represent the majority of you as best I can. So I can tell you that you're changing my thinking. But one thing that's not changing is that we need to get our new chief of police, as well as the officers who work in that building, out of that building."

Derksen said, because he only became police chief in June, there are still a lot of specifics he has to learn about the project. He said he and the Police Department are more than willing to listen to concerns the community has.

"This has been a process that's been going on for several years," he said. "I'm brand new to it. I came here today to learn just like you folks, because some of this stuff I'm seeing for the very first time. I haven't seen any of the presentation on how they picked the site, and I'm not married to any site, because again, it's all new information to me as well."

Humes said there are plenty of ways to scale back the project to lower the $4.35 million budget significantly. He also said potential grant funding could further offset costs.

"We're not just looking for the biggest and trying to create the biggest," he said. "We're trying to be responsive to what each community tells us, regardless of the population. Each town has unique requirements. Each town has unique aspects to their police facility."

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