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East Lyme to hold referendum on proposed policing facility

February 12, 2019 GMT

East Lyme — Residents will have a final say at a referendum Feb. 20 as to whether East Lyme should move forward with a proposed 2,775,000 Honeywell office building at 277 W. Main St. to turn into a public safety facility.

Originally estimated to cost taxpayers nearly 3.2 million in renovations — the Board of Finance has since cut the town’s spending limit on that proposal to 2.23 million for renovations at a January special meeting.

The 30,000-square-foot facility, which sits on 17 acres, would consolidate the town’s dispatch center, fire marshal’s office and emergency operations center — which currently are housed in Flanders — with the police station and would include an evidence room, an arms lockup room and storage, among other uses.

In his original proposal, Nickerson called for including holding cells at the facility. Whether those can now be built with a 1 million — remains to be seen, Nickerson said in January. The town presently pays Waterford approximately 6.5 million proposal to build a facility at Camp Niantic, and in 2007 voters rejected a 1 a year, as having “deplorable” conditions. Constant flooding and water leaks, as well as mildew and poor air quality, make working in the facility difficult for the town’s law enforcement staff, they’ve said.

The police force, with 23 full-time officers and one part-time officer, serves the town’s 19,000 year-round residents, as well as a surge of seasonal visitors and residents in the summer.

Since November, town officials and taxpayers have spoken back and forth at length — through public forums, board and commission meetings, as well as over social media — about the proposal and whether it is fiscally, logistically and operationally feasible.

Some taxpayers have questioned the building’s location and proximity to flood zones, its size, and whether the move is even necessary, among other concerns.

In particular, residents have expressed fears about how financing millions for the facility, almost two years after the town approved financing 10 million to $12 million.

“You can’t have town employees, especially a police force, working in conditions like this. This is not only a great opportunity, this is a necessity,” Nickerson continued. “We’ve done as good a job as we can possibly getting all the information out to the public, and I’m confident our taxpayers will see the value in this opportunity.”

The referendum will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 20 at the East Lyme Community Center located at 41 Society Road.

m.biekert@theday.com