‘Major structural issues’ found at NS Police Station

‘Major structural issues’ found at NS Police Station

An architectural consultant is currently studying whether the town should build a new police station or renovate the existing location at the former Bushee School.

NORTH SMITHFIELD – An effort to determine whether to save the old North Smithfield Police Station or build a new one is off to a rocky start after a consultant detailed major structural concerns with the existing building to the Municipal Buildings Review Task Force last week.

Jeff McElravy, a principal for Tecton Architects, told members of the Task Force last Thursday, April 22, he foresees “large dollars” associated with fixing the former Bushee School. McElravy participated in a site walk earlier this month with an engineer for the study, a walk he said prompted the engineer to comment the building had “major structural issues.”

“I was surprised, I knew he was going to be really hard on the front of the building, but he also had concerns about the rear of the building,” he said.

Among the concerns were a bowing parapet and a copper cornice that’s “peeling away” from the exterior of the building. McElravy also said the building shows evidence of extensive water infiltration that would have to be fixed before new renovations could take place.

“If we were going to use this building, we have to fix it. We have to,” he said.

Though the full analysis of existing conditions at the building has not yet been published – those are expected during the Task Force’s next meeting in May – McElravy said it does not meet current standards for police station design. Other concerns cited by members of the Task Force included the wide hallways and low basement ceilings in the former school.

On Thursday, McElravy presented a spatial needs assessment of the department’s needs during a meeting that also included Chief Tim Lafferty. Though he cautioned the number could change dramatically, McElravy estimated the current projected cost of building a new station was $16.6 million.

“This is very much a working document. It’s a draft at this point,” he said.

Among the factors that could weigh into the final cost, he said, are “dramatic increases” in steel prices as well as masonry and drywall. During a recent project in Shrewsbury, Mass., he said, a construction manager’s estimate came in $1 million over their projection due to steel increases.

“No matter how much escalation you put on there, you’re always chasing the market. It’s a little bit of a scary time for the market,” he said.

Based on the current trend in calls for service, McElravy recommended a station that could accommodate 32 to 36 officers. Working on a standard of between 500 and 600 feet per officer, he recommended a 21,000-square-foot station compared with the 15,500 square feet in the existing building.

“It would be our goal to look at both this building and a new construction to meet as many of the space needs as possible,” he said.

Debate over the future of the police station has been going on since at least 2014, when voters approved a $5.2 million bond to renovate both the station and the former Kendall Dean School. With the renovations to Kendall Dean now mostly complete, Paul Vadenais, town councilor and a member of the Task Force, said the town has about $1.3 million left to work with.

A vocal proponent of building a new station, Vadenais said he was unaware of the extent of the issues at the current building. He said those issues may have contributed to high estimates from builders looking to renovate the structure in the past.

“It was always ‘how can we adapt the building that we have to meet the needs of the police station.’ And this is taking a big approach to it,” he said.

Asked whether the $1.3 million could be put toward a new building, Vadenais said the town would have to consult with bond counsel.

“Even if we want to rehab that building, it’s not going to happen for $1.3 million, so either way you’re going to have to put another bond out there,” he said.

Tecton is expected to complete its analysis by July, at which point they’ll present their findings to the town. The Town Council hired the firm in January for $48,500 to determine the costs of renovating the existing station versus building a new one.


Another fake study to justify a police station that is not needed. A new police station just increases taxes and does not reduce crime. This is just union greed just wanting a fancy new office of the backs of the taxpayers. Just contact Dunkin’ Donuts to build a new station. Every time I call the police for an issue nothing is ever done.

They finally found the architect they were looking for to give them the report they really wanted all along. Who couldn't see this coming!!! The "building needs rehab so let's build a new one" mentality in NS is mind numbing. Also, if the 36 officers are on 3 different shifts and the majority of each shift are actually patrolling, why would all 36 officers need a 20ft x 30ft space in the station at all times? 15,500sf seems like more than enough if you do the math.

Funny that the PBIC (and prior studies) never found structural deficiencies. Funny that the NS Police were satisfied with that plan in 2014. Funny that the MBRTF have been vocal since taking over that we may need a new station. Funny that this new review finds exactly what they wanted them to find.

In the end, the taxpayer apathy will win. Hope you all enjoy the process and the dip into our wallets for yet another push to spend for new.

The actions of the MBRTF have been appalling since taking over. From the sham executive sessions to the open belligerence to the wishes of voters. It's a disgrace.

Art Bassett

If you search long enough you're going to find someone who will agree with how you think, this is crystal clear with this nonsense! As taxpayers, we're doomed to ever increasing taxes for no real reason except that there are elected people who just want to spend, spend & spend.

I agree 100% with the previous comments on this ridiculous push to spend millions on a new police station instead of being more frugal. Most of us have to live within a budget, but hey, the TA & TC don't care, they just continue to push for more spending when we can't afford it.

When comes to taxpayers direction regarding bonds in North Smithfield one just has to have a sense of humor to even get through this article, I can only equate it to the movie Groundhog Day. They demonstrate persistence in commissioning studies over and over hoping to get a different result. The studies erode the money originally targeted to embark on this project.

The North Smithfield official’s mantra when it comes to bond issues is a yes is seen as a blank check. Those in charge refuse to accept the voter results. They are the equivalent of petulant children who stomp their feet at their parent’s direction.Their tantrums have taken the form of wasting money on studies,OUR MONEY.

They allow public property to erode,they justify it with remarks like “we are attempting to put lipstick on a pig”. They bank on the “story” getting so old (2014-present) that it will result in getting what THEY want.
SHAME ON THEM for disregarding bond intent. SHAME ON US for allowing it. Think of it, the Halliwell project is in the same hands. Expect nothing less than the vision of the few.

Why would we expect a different response from the same individuals that we keep electing and re-electing. I agree, if you keep contracting with firms to get the answer you want, if you spend enough money, you get it. Mold and structural deficits are such a issue at the police station that we have to build a new one, but the Senior Citizens Advisory Committee can meet at Halliwell at will and at 10:00 in the morning. By the way, there was no community access via Zoom. What in the hell is going on here, who is running this Town? It seems PZ is just an appendage for the TC. I have yet to see an independent decision that crosses his mind. I had high hopes that there might be an independent voice or two, but please start speaking up before you sell us all down the river.

Let’s suggest that we have three shifts and 36 officers. Probably you have more staffing on first, less on second and even less on third. It seems you are building out your square footage to the max. I challenge anyone in town who may be a CEO and ask them how much square footage do your employees have? These calculations are just crazy!