Foster will decide on new police station bond

Foster will decide on new police station bond

The Foster Police Station Building Committee and Town Council are proposing a new $3 million, 6,000-square-foot Police Station, to be located at 110 Danielson Pike, during a Special Financial Town Meeting on Sept. 29, at Ponaganset High School. The current station violates several fire, electrical and civil rights codes and lacks adequate space for police business.

FOSTER – With a current police station unfit for use with several deficiencies, Police Station Building Committee member Joe Walsh says town votes will decide whether to borrow $3 million for a new station at the Sept. 29 Special Financial Town Meeting.

Walsh said the current Foster Police Station does not meet Police Department accreditation standards, which creates litigation liabilities and lowers confidence in the department.

As it stands, the Foster Police Station is located in a single-family home built in 1824 on Howard Hill Road that lacks numerous public safety requirements.

The PSBC identified missing elements in the station, including:

• Separate cells for juveniles or females (there is only one cell);

• Interrogation or interview rooms, including a separate area for juveniles;

• Shower facilities for men or women;

• Locker rooms;

• Separate bathroom facilities for male, female and public;

• Actual offices of any kind;

• ADA compliance (basically at 0 percent compliance);

• Weapon storage (currently using a broom closet);

• Evidence storage, using “barely accessible” file cabinets;

• And a sallyport, or two-door entry garage

Ultimately, the PSBC recommends building a single-story 6,000-square-foot structure donated to the South Foster Volunteer Fire Department located a 110 Danielson Pike on the corner of Routes 6 and 94.

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The tax impact would be between 46 cents and 52 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. For a $300,000 home, the tax rate would increase from $138 to $156 for 20 years, according to Walsh.

“The building size is based on the minimal requirement for a modern municipal police station for a town of our size. The location provides room for minimally invasive expansion in the future,” he said.

During a Sept. 10 virtual meeting, Walsh and members of the PSBC and Town Council went over details of the proposed project in advance of the FTM.

Details for the proposal are available at and will be presented before the question to bond out and build a station is given to voters.

Walsh warned that if the town does not approve the project, the state will most likely take action against Foster for not providing a safe environment for police business.

Town Council President Denise DiFranco said that means the FPD will most likely be removed from the building and into trailers until a permanent solution can be found.

There are a host of violations including ADA, fire codes, electrical codes, and civil rights, that are well known to the federal and local government, Walsh said.

“Presumably, if the voters of the town chose to not approve the investment of a new police station, the authorities having jurisdiction will take action on the town for all of these aforementioned violations,” he said.

“It would literally be impossible for the current structure to meet those standards,” he added.

Walsh explained that while costs may seem high for the station, the town’s buying power is better now than in 2016, and plans for the building are pared down to the bare minimum to keep costs low.

Estimates at $400 per square foot for a 6,000-square-foot building put the building at $2.4 million. That cost includes furniture, landscaping, signage, paving, fit-out, tower and cabling for communications.

Walsh said the process to research construction of a new police station began in May 2016 when a possible 10,000-square-foot addition to Town Hall for around $4 million was considered.

“The sole reason the Town Council created the committee is they had faith in the members to know the intricacies of construction, associated costs, and would act in the best interests of the taxpayers,” he said.

That idea, along with merging with the Scituate Police Department in 2016, renovating the current Town Hall, and other relocations such as behind the current station were all found to not work. The Rhode Island State Police also declined taking jurisdiction over Foster.

Walsh said the PSBC determined the site to be ideal due to its close proximity to the Isaac Paine Elementary School and Ponaganset High and Middle Schools, its high visibility for emergency services, safe access to two major thoroughfares, and it will give Foster “definition” as people pass through town.

Walsh added that its location is ideal for a municipal building with reduced site work compared to other locations, and has septic and water on site.

“The combined expertise of the Building Committee believes this is our best option for we, the taxpayers,” Walsh said.

Current members of the Police Station Building Committee include Walsh, DiFranco, Gordon Brayton, Tom Walden, Anthony Renzi, Brendan Mara, and Police Chief David Breit.

Walsh explained that the committee can’t make decisions on the build, and would instead make a recommendation on location, design and building of the station for the council and residents.

The current station will most likely be re-purposed as a historic landmark in Foster.

Residents will vote on the issue at a Special Financial Town meeting on Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. at Ponaganset High School, 137 Anan Wade Road.

DiFranco said the high school auditorium will be large enough to maintain social distancing during the FTM.