Pepper to re-examine building code, staffing issues
Amherst is having a consultant take another look his recommendations on the future home of the town's police department.
AMHERST – The consultant who recommended a new building for the Amherst Police Department over the former home of town hall on Ratchford Street has agreed to take another look at his findings.
“A couple of items of interest and concern in the original Pepper report were the post-disaster requirements in the building code and the projected staffing compliment that was used to determine what the square footage would be,” Amherst CAO Greg Herrett said Tuesday.
Herrett said the post-disaster requirements surrounding seismic activity have changed a bit in the past few years and upon conducting some research on the subject it was determined if the building is to be located in an area with almost no seismic activity it’s not necessary to build that requirement into the design.
The town CAO said the staffing projections included in the Pepper report that was delivered last February was “a little aggressive.”
“He has offered to update his report and he’s offered to do it at no cost. He’s going to update his report with respect to new construction and 5 Ratchford St.,” Herrett said. “We expect we’ll have that in the next month or so and bring it back to council for a discussion on the options they have.”
Police facility development is one of six major priorities adopted by council for the next year. It hopes to have a recommendation in place by May.
When John Pepper released his initial report he suggested the Confederation Memorial Building that was vacated late last year when town hall moved to the Dominion Public Building, is not an ideal site for the police department.
He said based on options, new construction would appear to be the most affordable in the long term. He said a new building would cost $4.8 million, compared to $5 million to renovate the former town hall building.
At the time, Pepper said there are problems with the Nova Scotia building code that requires buildings providing essential services to be constructed to post-disaster standards to provide a higher level of protection.
He also suggested the staffing compliment will climb from 39 to 55 over the next 25 years – an increase of 39 per cent over current levels. To meet the demand, he said a 17,900-square foot building is required.
The department has been located in temporary quarters above the Four Fathers Memorial Library after last August’s downtown fire forced it to evacuate its Victoria Street facility.