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March 5, 2013

Hampstead votes for police station for fifth time

Hampstead voters asked to approve a new police station

HAMPSTEAD — Four times, police Chief Joseph Beaudoin has watched voters reject a new police station.

Now, just a week before Town Meeting, he said he senses things are different.

“This year is eerily quiet,” Beaudoin said. “We aren’t hearing the things we’ve heard in previous years. We don’t know the reason, but we’re very optimistic.”

Voters will get yet another chance to approve a new police station when they go to the polls a week from today. This year, the town is pushing a “one and done” plan, asking voters to pay for the proposed $1.63 million station on Veterans Way in just one year.

“This is just a onetime tax increase,” Beaudoin said. “After this year, the taxes would go right back down to where they were.”

The current station, which was built in 1948, is about 2,500 square feet and lacks several important features, according to Beaudoin.

“There’s no holding cells here,” he said. “When we arrest someone, we handcuff them to a wall. The whole booking system is in the same room, so we have to handcuff both hands or they could just be able to access our computer.”

The proposed station would be about 7,500 feet and would include holding cells, along with new male and female locker rooms. Currently, the female locker room is combined with a unisex bathroom.

Stephen Londrigan, president of the Hampstead Police Building Committee, estimates that the median taxpayer would pay about $260.

“Last year, we got feedback from voters that there was concern over interest payments with the bond,” Londrigan said. “With this approach, there is no interest and we’ve made it as cheap as we can.”

A 10-year, $1.5 million bond option fell short of the 60 percent required approval by just 36 votes last year. This year, the article requires majority approval to pass.

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