New police facility will be built
A new police facility will be a priority for Amherst in 2014.
© Darrell Cole - Cumberlandnewsnow.com
Amherst Mayor Robert Small speaks to the Amherst Rotary Club on Monday while Rotarian and retired town councillor Robert Angel looks on.
AMHERST – Amherst is going to be a very busy place in the coming year.
Speaking to members of the Amherst Rotary Club on Monday, Robert Small said the town intends to have a clear direction for a new police facility while the town will also work with the Municipality of Cumberland on furthering its service sharing agreement that will see a merged corporate and financial services office for the two municipal units.
“You will see a new police facility constructed and once we get some information back from staff we’ll be able to make that decision and get on with it,” the mayor told Rotarians. “The council is fully supportive of putting together a good police facility for this town and it’s something that’s long overdue.”
The police department was displaced from its Victoria Street quarters in August 2012 when a massive fire destroyed the Windsor and Black Block buildings. Since then, it has been located on the second floor of the Four Fathers Memorial Library.
The mayor said a request for proposals will be issued soon for various options with the former town hall on Ratchford Street, including demolishing the building and constructing a new police facility, a moderate redesign and renovation of the building or a simple remodeling of the building.
He said the town doesn’t want to spend more than $3 million on a facility.
Small said a police facility was being discussed when he was first elected to council in 1994. At the time, the Victoria Street location was only supposed to be a temporary fix.
“We are going to have a long-term plan in terms of policing for the Town of Amherst. RCMP is not the answer for us,” the mayor said. “We’re going to give them a facility that meets their requirements.”
Looking back at the last year, Small said the town reviewed its municipal tax structure and reduced property taxes in the 2013-14 budget for both residential and commercial property owners.
The town also hired Ian Naylor as its permanent police chief, replacing the retired Charles Rushton and it completed the West Highlands development plan to prepare for construction of the West Highlands Elementary School.
The mayor said he is disappointed more wasn’t done on the regional marketing strategy in 2013 and is not sure of the status of the planned regional enterprise network to replace development agencies like CRDA.
The past year saw more than 60 capital projects in the town including replacing the culvert on Academy Street, West Pleasant Street reconstruction and storm sewer separation, building a sidewalk on Industrial Park Drive and replacing an undersized water main on Melrose and Duke streets.
The town also completed $350,000 in capital paving.
Other initiatives included a successful Idea Day in October, a new senior’s strategy that was unveiled in December and work on a youth strategy that will be announced in February.
It was also a great year for festivals and events in downtown Amherst and the mayor said there was lots of business success with more jobs at PolyCello, Advantage Communications, the expansion of the NSCC Amherst Learning Centre and more growth at LED Roadway Lighting.
The mayor said the town remains fully committed to service sharing with its municipal partners.
“In terms of sharing of services the next 24 months is where the rubber will hit the road. We have been talking about opportunities for combining services for the better part of six months. It’s all going to come together for presentation to council and decision in the coming months,” Small said. “I’ve said from when I was first elected that it’s crazy to duplicate so many services. We’re taking baby steps toward it because it’s change people aren’t accustomed to.”