ESSEX — The long planned public safety facility in Essex is nearing its construction phase. Before it can begin, however, residents will need to sign off on its budget.

A special Town Meeting has been scheduled for Monday, Sept. 23, at 7:30 p.m., in the gym at Essex Elementary School, 12 Story St. The single article on the warrant asks attendees if they are willing to go forward with the Finance Committee's plans to fund the combined police and fire station to be built on John Wise Avenue.

The building is estimated to cost $17,534,795. It will be paid for primarily via a Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion. Without considering the public safety project, the town estimates the tax rate for fiscal year 2020 is $16.29. Free cash left over from last year's town budget and money from the sale of real estate will also contribute to the project's budget. 

In addition, there are two construction estimates to consider — $15,101,452 from project manager PM&C of Hingham and $15,048,539 provided by architect Miyakoda Consulting of Raynham. 

The Finance Committee was still working on its recommendation late last week. Members will meet with selectmen Monday at 6 p.m. at Town Hall to further discuss how much free cash and real estate funds will be put into the project's budget. From there, the Finance Committee will determine a borrowing plan for the Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion.

Two public hearings will be held so town officials can better explain to what Special Town Meeting will be voting for. The forums will be held on Thursday, Sept. 12, and Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m., in the third-floor auditorium at Town Hall, 30 Martin St. They will be identical in content and it is not required to attend both.

Town Building Committee Chairwoman Lisa O'Donnell says the forums will provide a good catch-up for those who are not well-briefed on the project's long history.

"The architect will be there to present the project the design," she said. "We'll do a brief cap on (the project) just to emphasize where we are at now. We just want to keep people informed on what the project is and to have them feel comfortable with the designs. The more informed people are the better off everyone will be."

Throughout the design process, the Building Committee focused on only providing the police and fire departments with the essentials to keep costs down.

"At a lot of the forums (in the past), we'd talking about options," said O'Donnell, "but now we're at the part of the process where we're done. We're at the end of the road. There's not any more fat to cut out." 

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or



What: Two public forums on what Special Town Meeting will be voting for regarding Essex's plans to build a new public safety building. They will be identical in content and it is not required to attend both.

When: Thursday, Sept. 12, and Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m.

Where: Third-floor auditorium at Town Hall, 30 Martin St. 

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