August 20: New Northampton Police Station to be Presented

Today’s Gazette announces that a presentation of the new Northampton police station will take place at JFK Middle School on August 20. (A discussion of the station was originally scheduled for July 30 but that discussion was canceled.)

New Northampton police station up for viewing

The Police Station Building Committee and the team of experts who spent the last two years designing the $12.6 million station and its accompanying two-level parking garage will present their work and field questions from the public at the forum set for Aug. 20 at 6 p.m., at the JFK Middle School community room.

The committee is also expected to select a “construction manager at risk” during its regular meeting that starts at 7 p.m…

The current 12,000-square-foot police station at 29 Center St., which was built in 1965, is inefficient, overcrowded and outdated, according to a “needs assessment” study completed by Caolo & Bieniek Associates of Chicopee in 2004. That firm was selected last year to design the new building, which will be nearly three times as large as the old station and will meet the department’s needs over the next 25 years…

The Northampton Design Forum comments:

The current building is slated for demolition; the new building will be
constructed where the current parking lot is on Center Street. Also
planned is a 2 story parking structure that will sit behind the
building and directly abut Gothic Street.
This is one of the
most important planning decisions of the decade for downtown
Northampton, as it will be a major civic building that will shape two
of our most important street spaces, Center Street and Gothic Street.
It is important that everyone concerned about the future of downtown
and related design issues become informed and attend this meeting if
possible. If the new building can enhance these streets, the demolition
of the existing police station will present a unique opportunity to
improve our downtown.

See also:

Police Station Building Committee

The current station located at 29 Center Street, constructed in 1965 to serve both the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the Northampton Police Department, has outlived its capacity for modern policing operations.

Northampton Police Department, Massachusetts: Needs Assessment & Facility Master Plan (PDF, 2005)
The Northampton Police Department has outgrown its current facilities on Center Street [12,000 square feet]. The forty-year-old
building no longer meets the space, operational or security needs of the Department. The time has come to
do something about this.

The building no longer provides sufficient space for efficient
operations. Policing operations are hampered
by lack of space and outdated interior planning. Functions that should
work closely together are separated
(the Community Services Bureau works out of the James House on Gothic
Street due to lack of space at the
central station). There is insufficient parking to accommodate
department and staff vehicles. [The current lot is around 25,500 square
feet (0.58 acres), and accommodates the building footprint (6,000
sq.ft) and approximately 30 spaces.] The situation is
becoming more serious and intolerable year by year…

The need for police service in Northampton is growing. The Northampton Police Department deals with
approximately 33,000 to 34,000 calls per year. The numbers of calls for service and the time spent on each
call has gone up, and crime rates are rising. Crime rates were up 43 percent in 2003, much higher than
anticipated. In the ‘top 8’ crime categories crimes increased from 1,367 in 2002 to 1,958 in 2003, an
increase of 43 percent. This trend has been obvious for several years and the department’s success in
solving crimes and laying charges comes at the cost of increased overtime and court appearances…

To meet the increasing needs of the city we have estimated that total police staffing (not including
dispatchers) could reach or exceed 80 by 2030 (an increase of 25 to 28 percent, or about 1 percent per

To meet 25-year accommodation needs for a department of up to 80 members (up from 62 currently) a
facility of around 31,500 square feet is required, including an indoor firing range and small police garage…