East Lyme leaders want new public safety building

New London

It wasn’t too long ago when water flooded into the East Lyme Police Department’s armory and dripped into a nearby hallway. 

“Water intrusion in the building on a constant basis is damaging to records, damaging to the facility,” said East Lyme Police Chief Michael Finkelstein.

But it’s more than just the condition of the building which has the town looking for a new space, it’s also the size.

Fingerprinting and mug shots for people who are arrested are done at the Waterford Police Department because that’s where East Lyme has to rent jail space for the people it detains. It’s also where police keep their evidence locked up.

The town is hoping to buy the Honeywell property on the west end of town. The 30,000 square foot office and warehouse space comes with 17 acres of land and could bring together police, the 911 dispatch center, the fire marshal, and emergency operations center into one public safety building open 24/7.

“It’s less than ideal to have things so fragmented all over the place,” said Chief Finkelstein.

He is East Lyme’s first ever police chief. The town left the State Police Resident Trooper program two years ago when costs started to rise. 

“And they were putting more and more of the costs associated like the police car and the overtime and the pension benefits all were being dumped onto the towns,” said East Lyme First Selectman Mark Nickerson.

But a member of the finance board has her concerns about this deal. She questioned town leaders at a news conference Tuesday at town hall.

“The timing of this right now is a concern to me personally and I’m concerned about our taxpayers taking on yet another bond,” she said.

The cost to buy the building is $2.775 million and it’s another $3 million to renovate it.

“We’re talking a $6 million project that plan B is to build a new facility for $12 to $15 million,” said Nickerson.

If the deal is made, the town will have 120 days to get voter approval in a town-wide referendum. 

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