EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 12, 2013

Hampstead to vote again on police station

By Alex Lippa

---- — HAMPSTEAD — For the fifth time, voters will get the option to pay for a new police station. No changes were made to the $1.63 million warrant article at the town deliberative session last night.

Chief Joseph Beaudoin spoke in support of the plan to the 28 registered voters who turned out Monday night.

“It is time that the town of Hampstead step up to the plate and build what’s necessary for both the officers and the residents of the town,” Beaudoin said.

Unlike previous years, the town is asking the taxpayers to pay for the project in one year as a “one and done” approach. This option is about $300,000 cheaper than spending money through a bond or a capital reserve project. The station would be about 7,500 square feet and would be built at the intersection of Stage Road and Veteran’s Way.

By choosing to pay for this in one year, the town only needs a majority vote as opposed to the two-thirds majority vote it needed last year.

Beaudoin said the facilities lack items such as holding cells.

“Last year, the Hampstead police department made 138 arrests,” Beaudoin said. “All those people were basically handcuffed to a towel holder like in your houses. We don’t have holding cells to protect our officers and we don’t have juvenile detention centers.”

A request for money for a new station failed last year by just 36 votes at Town Meeting.

Only 28 of the town’s 6,267 registered voters showed up to the deliberative session last night after the meeting was delayed from Friday night due to the blizzard. No amendments were made to any of the articles.

Among the articles that will be on the March 12 ballot include $51,000 to hire a new full-time police officer.

“This officer would be assigned a midnight shift,” Beaudoin said. “Currently, the town of Hampstead only has one police officer on between midnight and 8 a.m. during the week.”

Fire Prevention Captain William Warnock stood up and spoke about an article requesting the taxpayers pay $28,500 to replace the town’s Jaws of Life extrication tools.

“The current tools we have are 25 years old,” Warnock said. “They work great on cars that are 25 years old. We have had more than our fair share of deaths and serious injuries in town. Our Jaws of Death literally aren’t cutting it. We are taking much more time than we have in the past because our cars are much stronger.”

Budget Committee member Matt Murphy spoke against three separate articles, which would spend $5,000 each on assistance to homeless families, supporting the Sad Cafe music venue and funding future projects for Hampstead recreation fields.

“We’re asking people to pay for a police station among other things,” Murphy said. “These can wait another year.”