AMHERST – Amherst is proceeding with renovations to the Four Fathers Memorial Library to assist the town’s police department that was displaced by August’s downtown fire.
The town has agreed increase its capital budget by $30,000 to complete the renovations that will include a washroom, interview rooms and an exhibit room.
“The current exhibit room would be changed into two interview rooms and a washroom, and the current interview rooms would become the exhibit room and temporary exhibit room,” Coun. Lisa Emery told council at its November meeting last night.
Emery said the renovations are required to address safety, privacy and operational issues. She said there is no washroom in the police part of the building – located on the second floor of the library building. Because of that, prisoners must be escorted out of the office area of the police department to a washroom shared with the public and library staff.
The interview rooms are currently located beside the offices of the executive assistant, deputy chief and the chief, on the opposite side of the building from the patrol section. The officers’ ability to monitor and react to sudden emergencies involving a prisoner is reduced.
Also, non-police personnel in staff offices across from the interview rooms are exposed to those in custody, witnesses and victims being escorted to the rooms.
The interview rooms also need to be constructed in a manner that they are soundproof.
The exhibit room requires temporary lockers.
“This is a great move moving forward,” Deputy Mayor George Baker said. “Some people might question why we are spending $30,000 when we’re going to eventually move the police department, but this will address operational issues and make sure the police have proper facilities until that time.”
Mayor Robert Small asked if the town will be able to get the money back through its insurance. Finance director Vince Arbing said he is working through the town’s insurance adjustor and has been told every effort will be made to make that a reality.