Councillors Approve $23M For Public Safety HQ

Architect’s rendering of the new public safety headquarters planned for Sea Street. City councillors approved borrowing an additional $23 million for the project Monday. Rendering courtesy city of Quincy.

By SCOTT JACKSON

The Quincy City Council on Monday approved borrowing an additional $23 million to pay for the construction of a new public safety headquarters, which could open as soon as the spring of 2025.

The $23 million bond was approved in a 7-1 vote, with Councillor Anne Mahoney opposed. Councillors had previously authorized $152 million in borrowing for the project. A $120 million bond for construction and infrastructure costs was approved in April 2021 and a $32 million bond for land acquisition and building design passed in December 2019.

City Council President Noel DiBona said work had already begun in the vicinity of the planned new building, which will be located near where the city’s police station sits today, including the reconstruction of Broad Street and the extension of Field Street to meet Broad Street. DiBona said he wanted to see the whole project move forward.

“I do see progress going on. I don’t want to see a situation where construction costs get even more escalated here. I want to keep the ball rolling,” DiBona said. “This is an important project for the city, to move it forward, and I’m in full support of it tonight.”

Ward 1 Councillor David McCarthy, in whose ward the building will be located, said inflation and rising construction costs that led to the request for additional funding are not unique to Quincy, and should not stop the city from moving forward with this or other projects.

“It’s what everybody is going through with small projects or big projects…maybe it will get better, maybe it will get worse, but we’re not getting any help out of Washington right now. It’s going the other way,” McCarthy said.

“We’ve got to move forward. That police station, and I know it well, is awful. It’s terrible. That whole area is going to be improved. When we get to the Squantum Elementary School, the new fire station, the Richard DeCristofaro special ed. center, we’ve got to continue to move forward, figure it out, maybe sharpen the pencils a little bit.”

Mahoney, who had voted in favor of the $120 million bond, said she might have voted in favor of additional funding for the project had the Koch administration done more to cut construction costs. She suggested that the city could have chosen an alternative to the copper and slate roof that is planned for the new building, for example.

“If we changed some of the things in the architectural design, it may have come in lower, and if you had done that…you showed me it came in at $23 million but we changed a few things, we took the copper off and that saved us $3.5 million or $5 million so it’s probably going to be $15 million more, I might have been able to get there,” Mahoney said. “I would like nothing more than to get to a yes, but it wasn’t shown to me.”

The new 120,000-square-foot building will house the Quincy Police Department, the Quincy Emergency Department, and the administrative staff for the Quincy Fire Department. The fire apparatus – Engine 1, Ladder 1 and Rescue 1 – now located at departmental headquarters will remain on Quincy Avenue, where the city plans to construct a new firehouse.

Construction of the new public safety building is expected to begin in the spring, the building should be ready for occupancy in the spring of 2025, and the current police station will be razed that fall.

The project costs also include funding for infrastructure improvements in the area of the new building. Those include the changes to Broad Street, the extension of Field Street, and a new median, with a fence, that will be constructed along Southern Artery to stop pedestrians from running out into the middle of the road and vehicles from taking left-hand turns across two or three lanes of traffic. The Field Street extension will facilitate those vehicle movements.

Mayor Thomas Koch was seeking the $23 million bond o fund a guaranteed maximum price contract between the city and the general contractor for the project, Suffolk Construction. Officials who spoke during an October hearing on the proposal said costs had risen across the board since April 2021.

At the October meeting, Stephen Chrusciel, one of the city’s project managers for the new building, said the city has taken several steps to bring the project costs down. By delaying the demolition of Father Bill’s Place, which is within the project footprint, he said the city saved $5.5 million because it did not have to provide the organization with a temporary location as the non-profit constructs a new housing resource center. The city will also save $3 million by employing a method to use the existing fill on site rather than shipping in new fill and $1.5 million by constructing the garage with pre-cast concrete instead of having it poured in place.

At Monday’s meeting, Joseph Shea also a project manager for the building, said Suffolk was able to find additional savings by changing the sequencing that will be used for construction.

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