This page will be regularly updated with newer FAQs regarding the scope and price of the project. If you have any questions about the project which are not answered here, we want to hear from you – so please email the project team at email@example.com.
The Easton Public Safety and Public Works Facilities Replacement Project is focused on the new construction of a public safety building, including a combined police and fire station, a new Department of Public Works building, and a fire substation. Visit the about page to learn more.
The DPW, Water, Police and Fire (Lothrop) facilities range from 50-70+ years old, they are antiquated and not up to variety of accessibility, safety, and environmental codes. They are too small for the equipment and personnel they are intended to house, resulting in overcrowding of equipment and exposure of equipment to the elements (50+ vehicles are uncovered year-round) and confinement of personnel to crowded facilities with inadequate space to work safely. The facilities are past their useful lives and continued annual capital spending on repairs is not a sound investment.
Photos of the existing DPW, Police, and Fire Facilities can be found here.
From Police Chief Boone, Fire Chief Alexander, and Superintendent of Public Schools Dr. Cabral – Easton Police, Fire, and Schools take student and community safety very seriously. While the physical location of a police station near the schools can serve as a visual reminder to those visiting that public safety is nearby – the reality is that on duty police are not stationed at Lothrop Street waiting in the station to respond to a 911 call – they are on patrol throughout the community in their cruisers. In the event of an emergency on campus, officers would be responding from their patrol zones in their cruisers (zones which include the School Campus), not directly from the station. Depending on the type of emergency, those patrol officers would also be assisted by the on-campus School Resource Officer as well as regional resources.
The project includes a new joint police/fire headquarters on Depot Street, but it also would add a new fire substation to serve the northern part of town including the school campus. This substation would be at the intersection of Washington and Main Street approximately 1 ½ miles from campus. As part of this project, a fire-station response time study was performed to confirm that the new stations (Depot and Main Street) would provide a high level of reliable, rapid response to all major population centers in Easton. The study concluded this project would do so, and it is available here.
The Town prioritizes rapid and accurate emergency response times to the School Campus and the community, and that is why we regionalized 911 dispatch with Mansfield, Foxboro, and Norton in 2020 at the Southeastern Massachusetts Regional Emergency Communications Center (SEMRECC). SEMRECC brought new technology that dispatching out of the former Lothrop St PD never had – including immediate geolocation of the 911 caller and real time sharing of this information with local first responders. This has cut most dispatches from minutes to seconds, improving our ability to rapidly respond to the School Campus or anywhere else in Easton. More information about SEMRECC is available here.
Police, Fire and Easton Public Schools regularly train across departments for a variety of safety emergencies on campus. These departments also work with Health and Community Services on an ongoing and year-round basis to with families, individuals, and community groups to address root causes of community violence. This incorporates a wholistic perspective on social and emotional wellness that includes interdisciplinary professionals across school and town departments including social workers, mental health professionals, paramedical professionals, benefits navigators, school resource officers and law enforcement. This team recently announced a partnership with William James College to provide free, confidential mental health referral services to all students and residents in Easton via INTERFACE. Information on that service is available here.
From Fire Chief Justin Alexander: Fire station locations have been carefully studied in a response time study as part of the feasibility process and have been determined to be capable of providing a high level of emergency response services to all of Easton. Findings of the Fire Station study were presented to the Municipal Building Committee on October 4, 2022, and found that moving to the proposed 2 station model would provide “nearly identical coverage at the 5-minute [response] level.” That presentation is here and video footage is here.
While having three stations may intuitively seem to provide more response capabilities than consolidating to two stations, the reality is more nuanced. Under the current three station model, there are typically five firefighters/paramedics at Lothrop Street Station 1, but only two FF/paramedics at Depot St Station 2 and Bay Road Station 3. This means that only one of three stations has sufficient staffing to dispatch two vehicles (fire truck/ladder and ambulance), while the other two stations can only send one before being vacant.
This means that for meaningful amounts of time each day, our ability to protect the southern portions of Easton is challenged as our Bay Road Fire Station often does not have any staff present. When our two firefighter/paramedics who staff our Bay Road Fire Station are out on a medical emergency or other calls, help for the southern portion of the town must come from further away or even surrounding towns in certain situations. This increases our response times. The two-station model will solve this problem overnight as we will more efficiently place our staff in the two-station model, allowing for multi-vehicle dispatch from both stations, rather than the current reality of only one (Lothrop St). We would be able to have firefighters and paramedics available in all of Easton, even when both of our ambulances are out of the area at a hospital. We will improve our ability to protect all of Easton around the clock with a more robust and appropriate response in the two-station model all while maintaining proper response times for a community like Easton.
Furthermore, the Town has taken other steps in recent years to improve response times. That is why we regionalized 911 dispatch with Mansfield, Foxboro, and Norton in 2020 at the Southeastern Massachusetts Regional Emergency Communications Center (SEMRECC). SEMRECC brought new technology that local dispatching out of the former Lothrop St PD never had – including immediate geolocation of the 911 caller and real time sharing of this information with local first responders. This has cut most dispatches from minutes to seconds, improving our ability to rapidly respond anywhere in Easton.
Yes, a significant amount of work has gone into this process over many years:
- 2014 Dore & Whittier —Municipal Facilities Assessment —This study quantified more than $339 million in school and municipal building replacement costs. This study was one of many contributing factors that supported the decision to enter the MSBA process to replace Center School, Parkview, and Moreau Hall with the now-under-construction Blanche Ames Elementary School Project.
- 2019 Municipal Building Committee and DPW Director—Facilities Assessment and Replacement Recommendation Report —This report from Director Field, issued at the request of the Municipal Building Committee, updated municipal facilities needs assessments from the 2014 D&W study and concluded that numerous facilities need replacement: DPW, Water, Police, Fire Station 1 and potentially Frothingham Hall.
- 2020 Municipal Facilities Feasibility Funding requested in FY21 Capital Budget—deferred due to lack of funding at that time/COVID-19
- Select Board adopts Goals to advance planning and funding strategies for municipal facilities replacement during FY22;
- Town Administrator recommends $500,000 in FY22 Capital Budget Supplement to accomplish this goal and begin the feasibility process; noting that any construction project resulting from this process would necessitate a debt-exclusion override.
- Capital Request for Municipal Facilities Replacement Feasibility Funding Reviewed and Unanimously Approved by:
- Capital Planning Committee – October 12, 2021
- Finance Committee – October 13, 2021
- Select Board – October 18, 2021
- Municipal Building Committee – October 26, 2021
- Easton Voters Approve Special Town Meeting Funding (November 2021) for FY22 Capital Budget supplement to fund feasibility phase;
- Town Conducts Owner’s Project Manager Request for Proposals (RFP)to solicit an OPM for the project team.
- January – Select Board awards contract for OPM Services to PMA Consultants – click here to see PMA’s proposal package;
- January-Feb – Town Conducts RFP for Municipal Facilities Replacement Designer Services;
- March – Select Board awards contract for designer services to Kaestle Boos Associates – click here to see KBA’s proposal package;
- April thru July– Feasibility Phase Design including preliminary site assessment & facilities programming assessment;
- July 26, 2022 – Municipal Building Committee votes to refine potential building and site options to a top three (3) choicesto advance to cost-estimation stage in advance of anticipated selection of top (1) choice to advance to schematic design in October 2022 – click here to see presentation.
- August 22, 2022 – Municipal Facilities Replacement Project Update to Select Board – click here to see presentation.
- September 14, 2022 – Municipal Facilities Replacement Project Update to Finance Committee
- September 21, 2022 – Public Building Tour: Fire and Police at Lothrop Street
- September 22, 2022 – Project update presented to the Furnace Village Neighborhood Collaborative
- September 27, 2022 – Public Building Tour: DPW at Center Street
- September 28, 2022 – Project update presented to the Easton Lions Club
- October 4, 2022 – MBC votes to select option 5B as the preferred alternative to enter into schematic design. This is the option that would consolidate police, fire, and DPW/Water at 524 Depot Street. A new North Easton Fire Station would be constructed at Dailey’s corner. Our fire station consultant also presented the station study in detail to demonstrate that a two-station model can serve the safety of the community. The video of the meeting can be viewed here and the presentation slides can be viewed here
- October 22, 2022 – MBC Team Table/Meet & Greet at NRT Fall Festival
- January 9, 2023 – Municipal Facilities Replacement Feasibility Report Presented to Select Board – the final feasibility report is presented to the Select Board. Click here to view presentation slides and here for the video.
- February 13, 2023 – * Easton Police, Fire & Public Works Facilities Feasibility Study Report Approved by the Municipal Building Committee (warning – very large file 1000+ pages)
- May 15, 2023 – Select Board and Stonehill College execute Letter of Intent to enter into a lease agreement for 5 +/- acres of land at Dailey’s Corner on Stonehill property for the construction of the future North Easton Fire Station.
- May 22, 2023 – Project and Schedule Update Presented to Select Board. Presentation here and video here.
- July 10, 2023 – Schematic Design Construction Cost Estimates Delivered to Select Board – Summer / Fall Budget and Voter Milestones Presented – Schematic level cost estimates for the new Police, Fire and Public Works facilities were received and delivered publicly. Construction cost estimates of $148M. Presentation here and video here.
- July 11, 2023 – Municipal Building Committee begins value management review of project scope to identify areas for reduction or adjustment. Presentation here and video here.
- July 31, 2023 – Select Board announces anticipated Town Meeting and Debt Exclusion Election Dates (Oct 23 / Nov 4) and launches new project website EASTONPSW.COM
Voters initially approved funding for the feasibility process to replace these buildings back in 2021. In the two years since, the project has been led by a citizen committee – the Municipal Building Committee – working in concert with the Town Administrator, Police and Fire Chiefs, and DPW Director, to design the project. It has been presented to boards, committees, citizen and civic groups at more than fifty sessions since then.
During September 2023, the following boards and committees have reviewed and unanimously recommended the project:
- Select Board
- Municipal Building Committee
- Finance Committee
- School Committee
- Capital Planning Committee
- Green Communities Committee
In addition to the board and committee recommendations, the Town Administrator, Chief of Police, Fire Chief, Director of Public Works recommend the project. All five labor unions representing the departments – Easton Firefighters IAFF Local 2790, Easton Police Supervisors Association, Easton Patrol Officers Association, SPEA Department of Public Works, and SPEA DPW Water Division, also support the project.
The Town will make a detailed presentation to voters at the October 23 Town Meeting on the project. Easton Voters are the final deciders on the project at the Special Town Meeting on October 23 and associated Debt Exclusion Override Election on November 4. More information about voting is available at www.easton.ma.us/vote
Not if the project is to provide adequate and appropriately sized facilities to meet Easton’s needs today and for the next fifty years, no. Regardless of the condition of the existing facilities – they simply cannot appropriately serve the community any longer as they were designed and built multiple generations ago for less than half the population of Easton today for departments and operations/assets that have grown and changed substantially.
The largest of these current facilities (Lothrop St Police/Fire 1) was originally constructed concurrent with the first Moon landing, with Public Works (Center Street) having been built around the time the first color televisions went on sale. Other facilities in use are retrofits of even older facilities, with the DPW Water Division operating out of a schoolhouse first constructed during World War II and the DPW Workshop (located at the Town Pool) which was built twenty-two years after the end of the Civil War.
Beyond their advanced age, the existing facilities range between 1/3rd and half the square footage necessary for current operations – let alone future ones – and many are tightly confined on small parcels not appropriate for large scale and 24/7 operations. Existing site constraints (wetlands, setbacks, acreage) would not accommodate the necessary new / renovated building size.
Even if the existing sites were large enough, triggering of code requirements and the substantial repair and expansion needed to hypothetically fit operations on these sites is estimated to cost more than the new facilities.
While it is impossible to predict the future, delaying the project is very likely to only increase the cost of the project over time. While interest rates may decline in future years, it is not possible to predict when that may happen. What we do know is that public construction costs have grown a staggering 69% in the past ten years – more than half of which has occurred from 2019-23. Current estimates for annual construction cost escalation are carried at 9% – and with a project this size, each year of delay in hopes of a more advantageous monetary environment would add nearly $10 million to construction costs.
Further, permanent borrowing for the estimated project costs do not occur immediately upon voter approval (i.e. if the project is approved by voters this fall, the largest bonds will likely not be issued until late 2024 and throughout construction into 2026). If voters approve the project, it is estimated that an additional year of design and engineering will be required before construction contracts are bid (this is the same schedule as the Blanche A. Ames Elementary School). The Town works closely with financial advisors to make informed decisions about the timing of short-term borrowing (bond anticipation notes) versus long-term (bonds) based on market interest rates, design / construction phasing, and recent municipal bonding performance in order to minimize long term cost.
A more detailed financial analysis, including anticipated / potential cash flows and borrowing schedules, will be presented to the Select Board and made available to the public on August 21st. All schedules are estimates based on current information and are subject to change based on actual market conditions.
A combined project is the most cost effective and programmatically efficient manner to address the large majority of existing unmet and unfunded municipal facility capital needs. Due to annually increasing public construction costs, phasing the project by each department or building over a ten year window (i.e. 2024; 2029; 2034) would likely increase total capital spending by a substantial margin and also duplicate certain fixed costs for the Town (feasibility, design) and contractors (mobilization, site control, etc.). This approach is the same one adopted by the community and voters of Easton when choosing to replace all three former elementary schools in one consolidated project, rather than trying to address the facilities one at a time.
When do citizens vote on whether the project advances and how do I find information about voting?
Capital projects like the Public Safety and Public Works Facilities Replacement Project require a two-step voter approval process. First is a Special Town Meeting on Monday, October 23, 7:00 PM at the Oliver Ames High School to authorize the project funding. That vote is contingent on a successful vote at the Debt Exclusion Election on Saturday, November 4 from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM at the Oliver Ames High School. Vote by mail is available for the November 4 date. All information about voter registration deadlines and participating in these votes can be found at www.easton.ma.us/vote.
The feasibility is the first step in ascertaining the appropriate and necessary replacement options for the Town of Easton’s municipal buildings available in a proactive and responsible manner, rather than a reactive and emergency repair basis as the buildings further degrade. Because replacement of public facilities, from feasibility to move-in-ready, can take 5 + years, it is important to start now.
Feasibility phase funding includes a variety of complex technical and professional design services, including an Owners Project Manager (required by state law for any public building project of this scale) and designer/engineering services for 50–100,000+ sqft of building construction housing the largest municipal departments and a multi-million-dollar fleet of over 70 vehicles including fuel depots, equipment, and hazardous material storage.
For a frame of reference, the 2017 appropriation for Feasibility for the now-under-construction Blanche Ames Elementary School was $1 million.
Much like replacing Moreau Hall, Center School, and Parkview with the new Blanche Ames building—spending significant capital to repair and replace components of 50-70 year old buildings is suboptimal for two reasons: 1) that amount of funding is inadequate to bring the buildings up to code and 2) even if you spent the millions necessary to bring the facilities up to code, they would still be far too small and would not meet 21st century operational needs.
The feasibility phase can take 1-2 years, depending on the number of potential buildings to be replaced and/or consolidated and on which sites it takes place. Typically, the process for a public building would flow as follows: [Feasibility / Schematic Design > Detailed Design > Construction]. Depending on the budget, some or much of the schematic design can occur during the feasibility stage.
For reference, the Blanche Ames Elementary project had feasibility funded by a town meeting in November 2017, the subsequent vote was for detailed design and construction in October 2019 and debt exclusion in November 2019, and construction broke ground in spring 2021.
Critical components of feasibility, similar to the Blanche Ames School, will be public engagement, feedback, and education via community and board meetings and facilities tours.
Regular updates on the feasibility process will be provided publicly via the Municipal Building Committee (similar to the School Planning Committee) and the project website.
After the feasibility phase, the town will have the recommended project and design/construction budget, which voters will approve at a Town Meeting, and an associated debt exclusion for funding to advance any further.
Currently, there are no state programs providing reimbursement for replacement or renovation of municipal buildings that this project would qualify for.
The Designer is primarily responsible for working with the Town and Town Departments to complete all the objectives outlined in the Feasibility and Schematic Design phase of the project. The contract with Kaestle Boos Associates, was authorized for execution by the Select Board on March 28, 2022.
The Owner’s Project Manager (OPM) provides project management services to an Owner throughout the life of the Project. Consequently, an Owner will work closely with its OPM from the earliest stages of the project through the project’s completion. The selection of a qualified OPM is one of the most important decisions an Owner will make to the project as the OPM has extensive experience on similar projects. The Owner’s Project Manager who was selected for this project is PMA Consultants. PMA Consultants is the same Owner’s Project Management company who represented the Town of Easton for the Blanche A. Ames project and helped deliver that project on time and millions of dollars under budget.
Yes, these buildings are designed to last the town at least 50 years and the design team has considered the population trends in the town to accommodate.
The current Police, Fire, and Public works buildings were originally constructed during a time when the Town’s of Easton’s population was approximately 11,000. These facilities were sized based on the Town’s public service needs at that time. Since that time, Easton’s population has grown to over 25,000. Services and Staff have increased in all of these departments and the staff are still functioning in buildings that were built for a Town less than half the population it is now. To establish the current and future needs of the buildings the design firms met with all departments, going through an extensive programming process, to establish space use needs, inclusive of future growth. In addition, population models, fire response time studies, and industry best practices were information into the programming.
The buildings are being designed for a lifespan of 50 years. The project team looks at both initial cost and life cycle cost to determine materials best suited for the building design. The materials selected are both economical and durable and are typically priced in the middle range for specific use of public service buildings.
Yes. While this project primarily focuses on the construction of safe, modern, and operational facilities for first responder operations, it is also planned to bring community benefits including a community/meeting room as well as a trailhead/public parking for access to the conservation land at 524 Depot Street for all to enjoy.
Public construction costs on a square foot basis have skyrocketed in that time frame – more than general CPI inflation. From 2014 – which is when Mansfield was designed – to today, that is 69% overall. Our budget is carrying today’s costs into CY24/25 with an additional 9% escalation per year because – even if voters OK it this fall – we need another year of design and bids will be based on market conditions in fall 2024. Certain subsections of public facilities have grown even more – DPWs are primarily pre-engineered metal and those costs have grown 97% in that period of time. DPW is a substantial portion of the overall construction cost in Easton and the budget reflects this. New stretch energy code will apply to Easton but did not to Mansfield – this has substantial costs for building energy standards that Mansfield did not need to design to or build.
The Mansfield numbers today are reflective of final project costs whereas our project Budget of $150M includes schematic design level construction estimates plus 30% for soft costs and contingency. The construction estimate for Easton’s project is closer to $114-118M. If, once bid and built, the actual costs come in lower than the budget of $150M, the amount the Town borrows will decrease and the associated tax impact will be proportionally less. For comparison – the 2019 budget for Blanche Ames of $95M and the project is concluding with actuals closer to $75M.
While it was similar insofar as being a DPW, Police, and Fire – Mansfield and Easton’s projects differ in other areas:
- Mansfield’s site was more build-ready than the ones we are working with which reduced some scope costs for Mansfield.
- Mansfield prepared the site prior to bidding the project which was not captured in the referenced numbers above of their overall project budget.
- Mansfield’s DPW didn’t include salt shed and fueling operations – Easton’s project does.
- Mansfield built a separate water division building that includes their town truck wash. This is located on the same site as the new municipal complex but was built 2006 outside of the 2014-16 project. Easton’s water division is included in the project and accounts for approximately 29% of the Public Works Building cost.
Additionally, the programming is also different because the Town of Easton has:
- Higher population
- Higher call volume for 911 services
- Larger Geographic area
- Included the Water Division in the DPW Building
- The need for a new Fire Substation
Should the new project be approved, it will take approximately 2-3 years from voter approval until the new facilities are designed, bid, constructed and ready for move in. In the interim, the existing facilities will continue to operate as they do today. Once they are vacated, the Town will need to decide whether to reuse the facilities for public purpose (i.e. other building use or demolish for other public purpose) or to sell the property for private redevelopment . Any decision in that regard will be planned and discussed publicly by the Select Board and, in the event of any spending to demolish/reuse OR sale of the property, Easton voters at a future Town Meeting would need to authorize.
Due to the necessary approval timeline (i.e. voters must first approve new construction and have operations move to new facilities before the Town could hypothetically sell the existing facilities; voters would then have to authorize sale of the vacant facilities) any application of future sales proceeds would be done after the fact and could reduce the principal amount of borrowing for the new project. However, it is very unlikely that the market value of any of the existing facilities would garner sales prices sufficient to materially offset the new facility costs. For frame of reference, the now vacated Moreau Hall Elementary school, which was authorized for sale by Easton voters in November 2022, was recently appraised at $2.3M.
Fire Station 2 was privately renovated as part of a developer mitigation agreement in 2019. The station is in good physical condition, but is still too small for a modern fire station and lacks other modern programmatic needs. However, due to its recent renovation and good overall building condition, Station 2 will remain in use for Easton public safety needs.
Yes. The facilities will be designed to meet the newest edition of building and Stretch Energy code and will be substantially more energy efficient than all existing town facilities. The project proposes to utilize ground source heat pumps (geothermal) for all HVAC needs at all three facilities. In addition, there are numerus sustainable aspects of the project including site, indoor environmental quality and sustainable materials.
Like Blanche Ames, we will design the buildings to be roof-mount-ready – but the actual mounting of panels will come once construction completes and will likely be done via net metering, power purchase, or other lease type agreement as we have done throughout Easton (and are actively doing with BA now). Which exact regulatory framework we use to get the panels on the roof in CY2027 when construction wraps will be based on a review of the regulatory and market environment at that time.
Easton swapped all PFAS containing foam with. PFAS free alternatives years ago. The foams utilized are recommended by Massachusetts DEP.
Additionally, firefighting foams are only used for actual emergencies and are not used in training. For training foam is simulated using dish soap or other non-toxic materials.
The new facilities will be substantially more environmentally friendly than existing facilities by virtue of having proper draining and capture systems – At the Depot St site the buildings will be as well as being connected to the Five Corners Sewer (524 Depot St Public Safety and Public Works complex) compared to existing structures which have inadequate / no drainage, no vehicle wash capture tanks, and are on septic, and lack any secondary containment for spills or hazardous materials. At the fire substation, the apparatus bay will drain to a tight tank to protect the septic system and ground water from potential contamination.