By Mike Melanson
Express Associate Editor
PLYMPTON – Selectman John Henry and Town Coordinator Dale Pleau said there might be a way to build a new combined police and fire station with no additional impact to taxpayers.
On Monday, Jan. 12, Henry said Plympton could cut project costs in half if the town were to order a prefabricated building to house both departments.
Henry, Pleau and Police Chief Patrick Dillon met earlier Monday to discuss the idea, and as a group plan also to meet with Fire Chief Warren Bosari.
“We owe it to the townspeople to at least bring them something,” Henry said. “Not a Cadillac, but a Chevrolet.”
Pleau said Plympton does not need to start from scratch when it comes to a new public safety building, but that there are canned products that might be options.
Henry said the town would pay half the cost by using pre-fabricated, pre-engineered buildings that would be built elsewhere and delivered. The town would not have to pay prevailing wages in that case, he said.
It would cost some $7-million to design, engineer and build a public safety building, or $549,000 in annual payments if the town finances the project over 20 years at a 2.8-percent interest rate, Pleau said.
“Cut that number in half,” he said. “It would not even hit the tax rate.”
Selectmen Chairman Mark Russo sat in the audience and spoke as a resident because he is an abutter to one of the properties being considered for a new public safety facility.
His wife, Kimberly Russo, asked about the aesthetics of a pre-fabricated public safety building and questioned whether residents would enjoy looking at it.
Henry said the buildings can be covered with clapboards, and Pleau said they can be covered with a brick facade.
“Basically, you’ll have modular buildings, so you can cut the cost in half,” Henry said. “It would be Town Meeting’s decision.”
In other action Monday, selectmen voted, 3-0, to consult with town counsel about a Town Meeting warrant article to establish an enterprise fund, drawing from Comcast and cable subscriber revenues, to join a regional community TV studio with Halifax and Carver or to start an Internet TV station for Plympton.
Russo said he wanted to check the wording of the funding article with town counsel so that she is up to speed and the other two towns should know that Plympton has the right article.
Russo said he is concerned that Plympton might not be able to join with Halifax and Carver if the towns’ share of funding is subject to annual appropriation.
“This is a good starting point, to start with (town counsel),” he said. “I just want to have this pinned down.”
Henry said he also plans to present voters at Town Meeting with an alternative to joining Halifax and Carver, although either option requires that voters approve the enterprise fund and appropriate such funds every year for cable broadcasting.
Henry said Plympton should form an Internet TV station, with no studio and coverage of selectmen and other government meetings to be broadcast online. The community of Douglas has a similar Internet TV operation, he said.
Selectman Colleen Thompson said she thinks Henry’s idea is interesting, although lots of seniors do not have the Internet.
“I think it would be good to have both options,” she said.
Henry said a lot of people do not have cable, and arrangements could be made to get DVD copies of meetings to residents who do have the Internet.
* Selectmen voted, 3-0, to put a stop sign at the end of Cross Street, with a sign ahead of it warning motorists of the stop side ahead, and put two signs on West Street on either side of Cross Street that would be “advisory stop” or “curve ahead” signs. “It would improve the situation considerably,” Russo said. “Sounds good to me,” Thompson said.