Police Station Plans Back On

Meetings Ahead

Some Provincetown meetings are in-person only, some are remote only, and some are hybrid where you can choose to participate in person or through a remote link. Go to provincetown-ma.gov, click on the meeting you want to watch, and follow the instructions on the agenda.

Thursday, Sept. 23

  • Planning Board, 6 p.m., Town Hall

Friday, Sept. 24

  • Bicycle Committee, 10 a.m., virtual

Monday, Sept. 27

  • Select Board, 6 p.m., Town Hall

Tuesday, Sept. 28

  • Licensing Board, 5:15 p.m., Town Hall

Wednesday, Sept. 29

  • Harbor Committee, 5 p.m., Town Hall

Conversation Starters

Police Station Plans Back On

Remember the police station project that failed to receive a two-thirds vote at town meeting in 2019? Well, it is back. The building committee has new plans.

“Residents are encouraged to visit: http://www.provincetown-ma.gov/policestation to watch two newly released videos and then vote on their design preference,” said Town Manager Alex Morse in an announcement on Tuesday this week.

The first video is a virtual tour of the current station on Shank Painter Road, which was converted from a funeral home in 1986. It floods regularly, and the electrical, security, and heating and ventilation systems are not adequate.

The second video, presented by Jorge Cruz, the lead architect on the project, walks viewers through the design of the 2019 proposal for the police station and an updated 2021 design.

Chaired by resident Sheila McGuinness, the building committee began meeting again in late May, soon after the select board unanimously declared the police station project a key goal. The building committee members have “thoroughly reviewed and discussed the outcome of the 2019 effort, and have incorporated community feedback from two years ago,” Morse stated. “As a result, the building committee worked with the architectural team and the project manager to present a 2021 design that is more traditional in nature and addresses other concerns raised by residents.”

There will be an article at the next annual town meeting asking voters to approve an updated plan to fund the construction of a new station. Morse has “pledged” to have an updated and accurate cost estimates.

In 2019, the building project bid came in at $12.5 million, which was $3.9 million above the appropriated $8.625 million. Voters did not go for the new higher price. —K.C. Myers

Provincetown Reboots Police Station Plans

Video compares 2019 and 2021 designs, but there’s no cost update yet

PROVINCETOWN — Those who haven’t had the chance to see the notoriously scruffy conditions at the town’s police station, housed in a former funeral home since 1986, can now peek in from the comfort of their own homes.

Provincetown is rebooting its effort to build a new police station. The town has posted two videos at provincetown-ma.gov/1111/Police-Station, one a narrated walk-through of the current station at 26 Shank Painter Road, and the other a presentation of the new station designed for the corner of Shank Painter Road and Route 6.

The first video offers a 13-minute tour of the deficiencies of the current station, including an overloaded electrical system, antiquated dispatcher equipment, and a locker room and animal control room that are both subject to repeated flooding from rising groundwater.

Two possible designs are shown in the second video, a “2019 plan” and a “2021 plan” for a new station. The interior layouts are the same, but the 2019 plan has a contemporary design meant to evoke a fishing warehouse on a pier, while the 2021 plan features design elements intended to be more traditional, including a porch-style entryway, paned windows, and both shingles and siding on the exterior walls.

A rendering of the 2019 police station design, incorporating elements of a fishing wharf warehouse.

The videos are accompanied by a poll. As of Tuesday evening, Sept. 28, 945 people had voted, with the 2019 concept outpolling the 2021 concept by almost three to one. The poll was set to close on Wednesday, Sept. 29 before a 5 p.m. building subcommittee meeting to consider the results.

The town is progressing towards a vote on supplementary funding for the station at the annual town meeting in April 2022. An $8.6-million bond authorization passed at the April 2017 town meeting, but plans for the station went on hold after a subsequent $3.9-million additional funding authorization failed in April 2019.

“I think we are committed to doing as much as we can between October and April to make sure voters go into town meeting having as much information as they would like to have,” Town Manager Alex Morse told the select board this week.

Another possible station design, re-conceptualized this year to include more “traditional” features.

“I’ve gotten a fair number of people who have called me, wanting to know why the building is designed the way it is, and what the requirements are,” said board member Leslie Sandberg. “There is no dollar amount yet, but there’s a number, $15 million, floating around — it could be more, it could be less, but that’s probably about where it is.”

Sandberg and select board member Louise Venden endorsed the idea of having several public information events throughout the winter.

A new cost estimate for the current station design is not yet available. In 2019, the total cost was supposed to have been around $12.5 million, but the price of many construction materials has risen dramatically during the pandemic.

Have questions about the $16.5M police station project? A new booklet has answers, town officials say

New online booklet has answers, town officials say

Tamora Israel

Wicked Local
PROVINCETOWN – A federal grant may help fund the $16.5 million police station building project, according to Town Manager Alex Morse at the Jan. 10 Select Board meeting.

Since that meeting, the Building Committee, which is heading the charge for the new building project, has created an online question-and-answer booklet.

“We’ve been doing all the leg work and working with the architect and the project manager,” Building Committee member Jeff Mulliken said by phone Thursday. “We wanted to be able to hand off information to the Select Board.”

Alongside two videos about the project, and survey results on the design, the new booklet is available on the town website at http://www.provincetown-ma.gov/1111/Police-Station

“I know this is something the board asked for,” Town Manager Alex Morse said Monday at the Select Board members. “To be kind of equipped with some of the questions and answers that you may hear from your constituents.”

Going forward, there will be a website and social media presence coming from the town and the Building Committee, Morse said. The Select Board can then also expect to see the scheduling of public forums and opportunities for public questions for town staff, he said.

The 2019 design for a new Provincetown police station has gained favor in a recent survey.

What is the project?

The current police station at 26 Shank Painter Road is a former funeral home. It has been operating as a police headquarters since 1986. Town officials have described the station as “inadequate.”

“This isn’t the first go round of this police station project,” Building Committee Chairwoman Sheila McGuinness said.

The 2018 rendering of the proposed police station on Jerome Smith Road was met with a barrage of negative social media posts. The design brought to the Select Board had a $13.7 million price tag, which was $3.7 million more than the original budget.

The town has begun to apply for a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that would help with the cost of the building project.

After the final application approval, the town would be given permission to bid. It’s estimated that the bidding process could start in August and take up to six weeks to begin receiving bids from general contractors, the report said.

If eligible, the minimum grant amount would be 20% of the total cost, and the maximum grant amount would be 50%.

What is in the booklet?

The 2022 booklet was compiled by the Building Committee with town staff, architects, and the project manager.

“Rather than having reams of information we decided to go with bullet points on very clearly stated questions and very clearly stated answers,” McGuinness said.

One question, for example, is why the police department can’t stay where it is.

“The current structure is deficient in terms of safety, health, security, and accessibility,” according to the booklet.

The Provincetown police station has been deemed "inadequate" by town officials, and a move is afoot to apply for a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to help with the expense of a new building.

The community will have “a station that meets all current codes, also the needs of 21st century policing: spaces, equipment, technology and systems,” the booklet says.

Another question is: Why was Jerome Smith Road chosen and not the Veterans of Foreign Wars building site?

“Residents at the 2017 town meeting voted to build the police station at 16 Jerome Smith; the town owns this lot, so there is no additional expense to acquire one,” according to the booklet.

The booklet compares the size and scale of the proposed new facility with other Cape Cod police facilities. The smallest Cape and Islands police facility, in Truro, is at 10,310 square feet, while the largest facility in Sandwich is at 56,000 square feet and a combined police and fire facility.

“At 13,684 square feet, this design is right-sized and efficiently laid out with no extras or unused space,” the booklet says of the Provincetown proposal.

The property tax impact on a condominium with an assessed value of $500,000 could be $145 per year for 20 years, according to the booklet. The construction timeline puts the facility opening after 18 to 20 months of construction with two months added to move in.

Who asked the questions?

When the Building Committee reconvened after the defeat at town meeting, committee members certainly had a lot of information from people who perhaps were not happy with the design, McGuinness said.

A lot of the booklet’s questions came out of personal interactions and social media. Those interactions were made into questions, said McGuinness. Also the committee thought that there were gaps that should be filled in, she said.

“It was a deep dive onto all the history and all of the details of the project,” Mulliken said.

The booklet is a way to anticipate questions and have all the information in one document, and answer questions in a consistent way, with all of the accumulated information of the project, Mulliken said.

The committee’s goal is to build a website where the booklet can be accessed by anyone.

Public input

There are opportunities for members of the public to ask questions, and provide input, McGuinness said.

“We’ve been meeting twice a month, at least. Frankly, we don’t have people who attend them,” she said. “We hold public meeting with remote option.”

The meeting agendas are accessible on the town website under the Building Committee, and the committee discusses the proposed project during the bi-monthly meetings.

“In terms of the design itself, we did do a survey about it,” McGuinness said.

An online survey was created on Sept. 21, 2021.

The poll asked residents to vote on either a 2019 barn-like structure or a 2021 flat roof modification.

In the results, 81.5% or 1,449 of residents voted for the 2019 design while 18.5% or 330 residents voted for the 2021 design.

“We’re looking at how to approach the outreach between now and April 4. There will be other opportunities to get more information and have questions answered,” McGuinness said.

Grant funding will be pursued for new Provincetown police station

Tamora Israel

Wicked Local
PROVINCETOWN — A grant may be available to help with the cost of a new police station, which the town has been considering for several years. 

The possibility of a grant-funded police station project was discussed during the Jan 10 Select Board meeting. The board members generally gave their approval to continue exploring the possibility of a grant but did not take a vote. 

Town Manager Alex Morse and Building Committee Chairwoman Sheila McGuinness discussed the eligibility the town may have to qualify for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Community Facility Loan and Grant Program. 

The current police station at 26 Shank Painter Road is a former funeral home. It has been operating as a police headquarters since 1986. Town officials have described the station as “inadequate.” 

The current Provincetown police station at 26 Shank Painter Road is inadequate for the police department's current needs, according to the town.

How much will it cost?

The town is considering a new police station for a town-owned lot on Jerome Smith Road. 

The estimated cost of the police station project is $16.5 million.

If eligible, the minimum grant amount would be 20% of the total cost, totaling $3.3 million of the $16.5 million estimated cost. The maximum grant amount would be 50% of the project cost, totaling $8.25 million of the $16.5 estimated cost. 

“The higher the percentage we get, the higher the grant is and the less the financial burden is on the taxpayers here,” Morse said. “I think it’s well worth it that we continue with this process.” 

McGinness agreed. 

“Whatever we can do to mitigate the impact on the voters and the residents and the businesses in the town,” McGuinness said. “It’s a substantial chunk of grant funding.”

The town has already appropriated $8.625 million for the project with $700,000 already spent, as stated in the Jan. 10 town manager’s report. 

What is the grant program?

The federal grant program provides “affordable funding to develop essential community facilities in rural areas,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture website stated. 

The department defines an “essential community facility” as a facility that “provides an essential service to the local community for the orderly development of the community in a primarily rural area.” 

How does the grant work?

The grant program requires there be a preapproval to determine eligibility before the bidding process on the grant can begin. The preapproval must be done on the local and national level of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as explained in the town manager’s report.

After preapproval, a full application must be submitted which “requires proof of local funding approval,” the report said. “Town meeting vote would be required for the full project cost.”

There is an application review process by the national U.S. Department of Agriculture office that could take four to six weeks. After the national office review, the application is finalized by the local U.S. Department of Agriculture office. 

After the final application approval the town would be given permission to bid. It’s estimated that the bidding process could start in August and take up to six weeks to begin receiving bids from general contractors, the report said. 

What’s next?

If the application process starts off well the town could know by the annual town meeting in April what the next steps would be.

“The good news in the process is that we won’t necessarily have a grant in hand for (April) town meeting but assuming we submit all of our pre-application materials by mid- February, we should get a preliminary grant number,” Morse said.

Voters appropriated $8.6 million in 2017 to pay for the police station but the final cost ended up being $12.9 million. Town meeting voters rejected spending an additional $4 million on the project in 2019. The jump in cost was attributed to inflation by architects, getting workers to the Outer Cape and previously underestimated construction costs.