No action taken on Berlin cell-door replacement plans

Published on Tuesday, 16 January 2018 22:44
Written by Charles Paullin


BERLIN - The project to install new detention cell doors at the police station was put on hold Tuesday night.

Mayor Mark Kaczynski said he wanted to wait two weeks so he can have more discussion with the police chief and town manager on a possible alternative solution.

“We have to come up with some kind of plan,” said Kaczynski.

The decision not to act came after Police Chief John Klett told the council that $30,000 for design plans and a waiver of the bidding procedure would be necessary to package the installation of fout new doors with projects sought by two other towns.

The doors are needed because the town has spent $46,000 in overtime costs since September 2016, Klett said, to have an officer watch the cells.

In September 2016, a detainee attempted to hang himself using the door’s bars. The new doors would be made of plexiglass, preventing such things from happening and will not require an officer to stand watch.

Kaczynski expressed hesitation over going forward with the project after Klett and Healy told the council that installation of the new doors had been previously estimated at between $215,000 and $300,000.

That cost, along with the fact that discussions on whether to renovate or relocate the police station are ongoing, are other reasons why Kaczynski wanted to wait.

“I don’t know if we’ll be vacating in the next five years,” said Klett.

He said by doing the project now, the town will save money over the five-year span with lower overtime costs.

A $21 million project to relocate the police station to 889 Farmington Ave. was voted down in 2014 at referendum.

A scaled-back, $16 million version was defeated in 2016 by the council, strictly because of budget reasons, as the town was undergoing an $84 million high school renovation project at the time, Kaczynski has said.

Councilor Alex Giannone, a state trooper, pointed out the town could save by using detention cells in New Britain.

But Klett replied out the town would have to pay New Britain if Berlin didn’t have an officer there, and transportation to and from New Britain and meals would still be the responsibility of Berlin.

Klett said that if the Board of Education were to go forward with moving its offices out of the basement of Town Hall and allow police to use the space, as has been discussed, the doors would not need to be replaced.

The expansion would address the issue of a lack of space in the current station, also located in the basement of Town Hall, too, Klett said.

Councilor Brenden Luddy said he would abstain from any vote since his job has contracts with Bismarck Construction, the company that would design the project.

“We have $90 million of debt,” said Kaczynski, while the town’s budget is $84.2 million.

The next Town Council meeting is on Jan. 30.

at 7 p.m. in the Town Council Chambers of Town Hall, 240 Kensington Ave.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin on Tuesday, 16 January 2018 22:44. Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2018 22:46.