KINGSTON/SILVER LAKE– A plan to build a new police station for Kingston on the main campus of the Silver Lake Regional School District (SLRSD) has run into last-minute legal problems, and is now up in the air.
Kingston had plans to build the station on a 5-acre parcel on Route 27, carved out of land owned by the regional school district. The district had previously received legal counsel that it could sell the parcel, if all of the towns composing the district agreed to the sale of the land at their respective town meetings.
Kingston, Halifax and Plympton had planned to split the proceeds of the agreed-upon $250,000 sales price proportionally according to the percentage of students they send to the district, and Kingston had agreed to donate their proceeds back to the SLRSD for capital expenses.
But over the last few weeks, legal questions began to emerge over the process, according to Halifax Town Administrator Charlie Seelig, culminating in a last minute decision to scuttle the town meeting articles that would have supposedly set the sale process in motion.
Halifax, the first district town to vote on the article, passed it over on Monday.
Kingston Town Administrator Robert Fennessy wrote in an email Thursday evening, May 5, that a legal opinion originally given to the district was revised. Apparently, according to Halifax Town Administrator Seelig, the district only has the statutory authority to buy land, not sell it, as this was not in the original agreement among the towns that formed the regional school district more than 50 years ago.
Fennessy went on to note that because of this lack of statutory authority to sell land, special legislation from the state must grant the district the authority to sell the land if Kingston does want to move forward with the project at that location.
The e-mail further says that Kingston will not have the article on their Annual Town Meeting warrant and suggests that Halifax and Plympton pull it as well, although due to the timing Halifax did pass-over and Plympton will have to pass-over the article.
“Clearly this was understandable, yet disappointing news to our town committees. We will now look at the available options to move forward,” he wrote. A source confirmed that Kingston officials have reached out to their state legislators for assistance.
The plans for a new station have been long in the works. A committee was formed to study the needs of the Kingston Police several years ago, and plans and renderings have been drawn up for the proposed station. According to a previous interview with Kingston Police Chief Maurice Splaine, renovating the current station on Main Street is not an option as the early 1980’s era building is in a state of deterioration. The current building is about half of the size of police stations in similar towns with similar populations and numbers of officers.