There is a referendum in Bethel today about funding for a proposed police station.
The $13.4 million bond proposal is for a new building the corner of Judd Avenue and Dodgingtown Road. Voters rejected a $14.1 million dollar project last December and the plan was slightly scaled back. The cuts came mostly from changes in material for the building, and a smaller parking lot.
Officials have described the current police station as cramped and overcrowded, providing less than a third of the space the department needs. The firing range can't be used as intended because it's currently being used for storage.
The current building was designed and constructed in the 1960 when the requirements and mission of police agencies was different than it is today in a post-9/11 world. There are new departments that must be supported that didn't exist in the 1960s.
The building can't be renovated and expanded because it sits on a flood plain. They've had problems with sewage backups that have occurred due to the flooding.
For those who say it still could be renovated, First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says it would be at a cost two or two and a half times the amount that's currently being proposed. That's if the town could get permits from federal government. The FEMA flood plain bisects the building.
Knickerbocker says the new proposed building will blend with the neighborhood and will be barely visible from the road. He notes that it will not impact the education park, but police would be next door to provide additional security if needed.