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Commission Forms Police Facilities Panel

The Police Commission has formed a subcommittee to pursue creating a new police station to better meet the space needs of the 45-member police department.

Police Commission members at a February 4 session named commission members James Viadero and Andrew Sachs to serve on that panel.

The formation of that unit, formally known as the Newtown Police Department Facilities Subcommittee, comes on the heels of the recent formation of a private fundraising group of volunteers, which is seeking to raise $18 million toward the construction of a new police station. That group, which is headed by resident Scott Cicciari, is known as the Newtown Police Building Fund.

In a January message to Police Commission members, Mr Cicciari had urged that commission members take an active role in promoting the need for new police facilities.

In that message, Mr Cicciari said that he has solicited architect Brian Humes to render a conceptual design for a new police station. Mr Humes, of Jacunski Humes Architects, LLC, of Berlin, specializes in police station design.

The rendering would be a conceptual drawing that would be used to generate discussions with town officials about the prospect of building a new police station at Fairfield Hills, according to Mr Cicciari.

At the February 4 Police Commission session, commission Chairman Paul Mangiafico said that in the drive to build a modern police station, the Police Commission needs to specify what the police department needs in terms of new facilities and also where the structure should be built.

“We need to have a specific plan in mind,” he said.

Mr Mangiafico termed the current police station at 3 Main Street as “totally inadequate.”

Options mentioned for new police facilities have included a larger police station at the current location or constructing facilities elsewhere, possibly at the town-owned Fairfield Hills core campus.

Although the existing station is considered to be in a good central location for the police, the site’s expansion potential is limited.

Mr Mangiafico asked that as the two-member subcommittee pursues its goal, it keep the full five-member Police Commission updated on its progress.

Mr Mangiafico noted that police officials have been discussing the need for new police facilities for the past 12 to 15 years.

The Newtown Police Building Fund has not disclosed its fundraising progress. At a January 7 session, Mr Cicciari told Police Commission members that the group had just recently started its work, adding that the funds raised so far are “very minimal.”

Mr Cicciari has said that the building fund is especially seeking donations from corporations and foundations.

On February 4, Police Commission member Joel Faxon noted that the Town of Bethel is pursuing creation of a new police station. Danbury police officers are working out of a new police station, he added. Newtown police need modern facilities, Mr Faxon stressed.

Mr Mangiafico urged that the Police Commission set a series on benchmarks by which it would chart its progress toward the goal of a new police station.

The Newtown Police Building Fund has enlisted Newtown resident Douglas Fuchs as its spokesman. Mr Fuchs is the Redding police chief.

In 2009, Police Commission members had discussed the prospects of building an almost 30,000-square-foot police station that would meet the police department’s space needs for more than 20 years.

In the town’s current five-year Capital Improvement Plan, spending $500,000 on architectural design work on a new police station is listed for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

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