Comparison between Hinesburg and Vergennes police stations fills out

VERGENNES — As the city of Vergennes considers building a new police station, Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel has shared additional details about a proposed new police station in Hinesburg, which has been used as a point of comparison to Vergennes’ plans.
The Hinesburg town manager confirmed in an email that officials there decided that the town’s new police station did not need separate men’s and women’s locker rooms, but that Hinesburg’s long-range plans called for a fitness room and a training room that will be shared with a fire station to be built next door, according to Merkel.
The Vergennes police station plans include men’s and women’s locker rooms and a fitness room.
In a Tuesday phone call with the Independent, Merkel strongly disagreed with the decision not to include the separate locker rooms in the $1 million, 3,500-square-foot Hinesburg plan, a decision he called “unheard of” for a modern police station.
Merkel also clarified the proposed Vergennes station’s patrol room is intended to serve seven officers, not 10.
Hinesburg has a similarly sized police force to Vergennes, but according to Hinesburg Town Manager Joe Colangelo does not offer “24/7” coverage.
Vergennes residents on March 5 will vote on the city council’s $1.85 million bond proposal to fund a North Main Street land purchase, site development and a roughly 6,000-square-foot station with two-dozen rooms.
Merkel on Tuesday also agreed to sit down with the Independent before the Town Meeting Day vote and discuss the need for all of the proposal, which has drawn plenty of support as well as some questions about its overall size and the need for some of its rooms.
City officials also plan to hold a public informational meeting on the plan, but City Manager Mel Hawley said on Wednesday the time has not been pinned down yet.
The forum could be held at either the city council’s Feb. 19 or Feb. 26 meetings, or time could be set aside during the city’s annual meeting on March 4.

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