The idea is still very much in the earliest stages, but Lynnfield residents may find themselves asked to consider a possible public safety building in town sometime in the next few years.
At Wednesday night's budget summit, where various town department heads discussed their projected funding needs for the coming year, Police Chief David Breen suggested that it's time for the town to at least begin talking about replacing the current police and fire stations. During his own earlier presentation on the fire department's budget needs, Chief Joseph Lingel said that a new public safety complex in Lynnfield would be his "big wish" from a long-term budgetary perspective.
Breen reported that the current station is "woefully inadequate" and "not retrofittable" for the town's law enforcement needs - especially with the Market Street development also projected to result in more service calls and the need for more police and fire personnel. For example, he said, there is currently no juvenile holding area, and there is only one female cell at the station. He also cited insufficient office space, an outdated firing range, a lack of public restrooms, and more.
"I truly believe that the time has come for this project to move forward," said Breen, adding that ultimately, this project "will take years to complete."
Later, Selectman Bob MacKendrick recalled that the existing stations had been built around 1960 - and that they had design flaws from the start.
He cited some "very definite needs" facing the town - the police and fire stations, but also the library's growth needs and town hall space. As a result, he added that selectmen are currently looking at re-activating the town's capital needs committee.
"We want to be able to do this in a manner that does not raise taxes," said MacKendrick, who also noted that "some opportunities could exist" for the town over the next couple of years as a couple of older debts get paid off. The selectman also noted that the project is "obviously not something that's going to happen overnight."
With that in mind, the question of a public safety building could come up before town meeting voters in a year or two.
Editor's Note: What do you think? Is it time to update Lynnfield's police and fire facilities sometime in the foreseeable future?