Town prepares for move to Milton School
The voters of Marlborough spoke loudly on election day; they want to relocate town hall operations to the Milton School. The final vote tally was 1,294 to 860.
Supervisor Stephen Osborn welcomes the move. He thought the final vote total was going to be closer because of the level of controversy that surrounded the issue of moving the operations of Town Government, the Justice Department and the Police Department into the Milton School.
“I am pleased that they [voters] decided that we should move into the school,” he said. “It’s the most economical thing to do and I think it helps to show unity between the two governmental agencies; the two taxing agencies in town that can lead to shared services and cost savings.”
Osborn said the layout at the school lends itself to the type of activities conducted by town government. The Police Department and the Town Court will be downstairs and the Town Government will be upstairs, and accessed through the elevated east entrance.
Osborn said the next step will be made by the school district with a vote to approve the lease arrangement. The town will have 10 years and an option for 10 more. Should the district want the space back, the town will have 30 months to vacate. If it is early in the lease, there will be some money paid back to the town on its $350,000 moving costs. Osborn said he expects the final cost of the move to fall below the board’s approved amount. He said he expects to see an overall savings because of the sharing of services with the school district. He said taxpayers will only be paying for two buildings and not three and the cost of the move he expects will be offset by the long-term savings.
Preparations of the communication apparatus will soon begin, starting with the installation of the phone system. He said the square footage of the town government at the school is more than double its current space. He is hoping that town government will be in by late December, capped with an open house celebration. The Police and the Court move may stretch into February because some walls have to be built and a new communications tower has to be erected.
Osborn said the Highway Department will remain at the present town hall and perhaps the water department may join them. The ambulance service is also expected to move from the TOMVAC building to the current town hall.
Osborn said there is some question on the legality of the town setting aside $200,000 a year into an account for the construction of a future town hall building.
“I’m not sure that’s going to be something we’re doing or not,” he said. Osborn said more discussion has to happen to determine whether the town is really saving by setting aside that amount of money each year or whether bonding for a building if and when the time comes may prove the more feasible option.
Police Chief Gerald Cocozza said he and his entire department are eagerly anticipating the move to the Milton School. They will be moving from 623 to 2,600 square feet.
Cocozza said they will now have a proper interview room where they will process those who have been arrested, making for a far safer setting for the department and the suspect.
“It will be clean and uncluttered and there will be some privacy,” he said. The chief said at their present location someone in custody and the one filing a complaint are “literally 20 feet apart.”
“If something goes wrong in the processing and someone gets out of control, which has happened, other people could be in peril,” he said. The new location will allow for people to be in different rooms, thus separating interrogations from soft interviews. Cocozza said there will be no holding cells at the new location because of regulations of the Department of Corrections.
Cocozza said the Department will be accessed through the downstairs front doors, which will be made completely secure.
The Chief said given the current economic climate, occupying the Milton School “was perhaps the smartest move on the table.”
Cocozza said NYCOMCO will be installing the radio system at the new location at no additional cost. He praised them for their excellent service and assistance to his department. He said the phone service will transferred, also at no additional cost.
Cocozza said a locker room may be built at the new location. This will allow an officer to quickly change a uniform that has been soiled in the course of duty, perhaps with blood during an arrest, rather than travelling home to retrieve a fresh one.
“It’s common to get blood on you; it happens, but you can’t run around with blood on your uniform,” he said.
Cocozza said the move will be a big plus for his department.
“Bottom line: it’s going to be safer for everyone; safer for the officers working, safer for the people coming to visit us, and safer for the bad guys we’re dealing with and safer all the way around,” he said.
By Mark Reynolds