Old police station in Watertown eyed for new "town hall annex

By Laura Paine Wicked Local Watertown Posted Dec 15, 2010 @ 12:17 PM Last update Dec 15, 2010 @ 12:20 PM WATERTOWN — The old police station on John Sonny Whooley Way could soon be used as a “town hall annex”— provided town employees can prove they truly need the space. At the Committee on Economic Development and Planning meeting on Dec. 14, members looked at all of the possible uses for the former station, including leasing the building, using it for municipal purposes, and even tearing it down to potentially add more parking to Watertown Square. “Tearing it down and using it for parking makes no sense at all,” said Town Councilor and Committee Vice Chair JD Donohue. “I think it’s part of what I would say is the Town Hall area. Is it worth expanding the Town Hall cost wise by creating [a] town hall annex?” Donohue suggested using the building to make workflow easier for employees by putting town departments that often work together – like zoning, planning, and community development – in one place. Councilors Stephen Corbett and Susan Falkoff agreed that there would have to be a true need for space before the town could consider shelling out an estimated $500,000 for renovations, which would include making the building handicap accessible, replacing the roof and several other costly changes. “Is Town Hall today dysfunctional enough to justify that expense?” Donohue asked. Director of Community Development and Planning Steve Magoon said that other departments in Town Hall would have to be evaluated, but his department could use the space. “The biggest problem I have with space is that it is spread out all over the building,” Magoon said. “I find it more difficult to manage the functions of the various offices when they’re in different parts of the building. I think by taking some of the functions out of Town Hall and putting them in the [former] police station, it would make things more functional. I think there is certainly enough demand to use at least a portion of that building.” The committee also discussed compiling all the town’s paper and electronic records and putting them in the attic of the former station. There was also some discussion about the need for parking in the area. Magoon said that on an average day, the Town Hall, library and fire department requires 100 spaces out of approximately 170 available in Watertown Square. Town Councilor Vincent Piccirilli told the committee that constituents had been complaining because municipal workers with parking permits have been parking in metered spots, which leaves little room for residents who need to visit town hall or the library. “My own personal feeling is no municipal parking permits should be usable at metered spaces,” Piccirilli said. “Permits should be returned by the police officers. It’s not a good policy to have people who shouldn’t be parking here [to] have permits.” Laura Paine can be reached at lpaine@cnc.com. Copyright 2010 Watertown TAB & Press. Some rights reserved

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