December 2003 Committee Report

As Revised December, 2003


The Public Safety Complex Building Committee was chartered by the Board of Selectmen to examine the current uses and future needs at the Plaistow Safety Complex and Elm Street Cemetery and to make recommendations for long-term resolution of any space needs issues. A charge was developed and approved August 28, 2001. The committee met to review this November 10,2003 and came up with the tentative draft. The committee consists of:

  • Town Manager - John Scruton, Chairman
  • Fire Chief - John McArdle
  • Police Chief - Steve Savage
  • Emergency Management Director - Bill Scully
  • Code Enforcement Officer - Mike Dorman
  • Cemetery Trustee - Fran Berube
  • Budget Committee Representative - Dick Latham
  • Selectman Representative - John Sherman
  • Ed Pitts - Public Representative (appointed November 10, 2003)


  • Summary Findings
  • Police Department - Input & Findings
  • Fire/Rescue/Emergency Management - Input & Findings
  • Cemetery - Input & Findings
  • Recommendations


  • Both the Fire Department and Police Department have an immediate need for additional floor space and renovations of some of the existing systems
  • Preliminary observations indicate this need can be met by expanding the Safety Complex onexisting town owned land. Discussions with an architect confirm that is probably the case. The architect (who did the original building) indicates going up will be much more disruptive and at least as expensive as expanding laterally.
  • This proposed Safety Complex expansion would impact existing well/septic/parking
  • Any Cemetery need for expansion is NOT immediate, but inevitable
  • There is no immediate need to acquire any land for expansion of the Safety Complex or Cemetery.  .
  • Two parcels of abutting land were examined (same owner for both)
  • Parcel #1 (< 1 acre) abuts Safety Complex land and has road frontage
  • Parcel #2 (20 acres) abuts both Safety Complex and Cemetery, but has no road access
  • Acquisition of abutting land (parcel #1, #2 and/or other) is suggested, not required Additional land would be beneficial for future expansion of the cemetery and provide flexibility for the Safety complex over a longer period of time. The land could also be beneficial for a park or other uses that preserve open space.
  • Parking remains a problem     
  • Vehicle circulation has potential for accidents
  • Entry by public vehicles from the back of the Safety Complex is not necessary and has some disadvantages.


  1. Historical Growth (since 1985)
    • Full Time Police Officers from 9 to 16
    • Full Time Dispatchers from 1 to 5
    • Full Time Secretaries from 1 to 2
    • Addition of Part Time Victim Witness Advocate
    • Contractual Prosecutor from Rockingham County
    • Fleet has grown from 3 to 10 vehicles
    • Resident population has increased
    • Business population has increased
    • Service population has increased
  2. Future Growth
    • Headcount growth is planned (2 Full Time Police Officers)
    • Additional vehicle planned for 2006
    •  Policy/Procedures Changes  
    • Increased demand on electrical wiring and generator back-up
    • Record keeping requirements have increased
    • New requirements regarding juvenile separation from adults and each other have changed since jail built   
    • A juvenile “soft room” is needed in addition
    • Domestic disputes are more complicated and require space for counseling
    • Court cases last longer and are more complicated
    • Evidence Retention Requirements have increased
    • ADA Accessibility, e.g.bathrooms
    • New law on officers to constantly meet physical fitness agility requirements
    • Increased number of women on the force    
    • Increased gear and items result in increased need for locker and shower space
    • Heating/AC  
    • Current utilization of space
    • Safety Complex designed in 1985 with 4000+ square feet for Police Dept
    • Floor space has been re-formatted, but has NOT increased since 1985
    • Some floor plan changes over the years have improved utilization
  3. Findings
    • Floor space does not meet existing need, will only become more inadequate
    • Growth is primary factor, but policy/procedure changes are also a large factor
    • Commercial and Residential growth, both permanent and transient continues
    • Additional floor space of 4,000-6,000 square feet is recommended
    • Most rooms in current facility are inadequate for current demand and will need reconfiguration as part of expansion
    • Any floor space expansion should be combined with Fire Dept’s needs


  1. Historical Growth (since 1985)
    • Fire Chief became full time position
    • Two Full Time Paramedic positions were created
    • Fleet has grown three vehicles over what it had in 1985
    • Resident population has increased
    • Business population has increased
    • Service population has increased
  2. Future Growth
    • Fire Department Headcount growth is likely
    • Allow for future Transporting Ambulance Service will require an additional vehicle and several additional employees
    • General expansion of service level is expected in the medical area
  3. Policy/Procedures Changes
    • Biggest change has been medical calls and their part of the service
    • Current practice should be to store medical equipment/supplies in “clean” area
    • Current practice should be to store bunker gear other than in apparatus bay
    • Bunker gear washing machine allocates precious locker room space
    • Lack of ADA accessibility
    • Need for physical fitness requirements
    • Department has gone to foam which requires additional storage space
  4. Current utilization of space
    • Safety Complex designed in 1985 with 8200+ square feet for Fire Dept
    • Inadequate office space for current employees
    • Not enough space for parts and equipment storage
    • Emergency Management adequate except for some Fire Department overflow
    • Not enough space for storing records, training materials, supplies, etc.
    • Apparatus bay is fully (over) utilized (needs for 2nd ambulance/HazMat trailer)
    • Lavatories/showers not adequate for current full time staff or any additions
  5. Findings
    • Fire Department needs additional floor space now
    • Growth, especially of medical area, is primary factor driving future expansion
    • Commercial and Residential growth, both permanent and transient continues
    • Current Fire Department space limitations will prevent expanded service level
    • Additional floor space of 6,000-8,000 square feet is recommended
    • Any floor space expansion should be combined with Police Dept’s needs
    • The Emergency Management Area is adequate.


  1.  Input
    • Town adds 16-25 sites per year
    • Can fit 750 sites in an acre
    • We have 425 sites available
    • The price per lot was increased in 2001 to avoid a situation of being significantly less per lot than other cemeteries in the area.
    • Therefore, we have 18-25 years of growth available at current utilization rates.
  2. Findings
    • No immediate need for additional land
    • Parcel #2 of abutting land is suitable for cemetery use
    • Other abutting land has not been examined
    • A back entry to the Cemetery is not necessary
    • Acquisition of abutting land would allow for eventual expansion of cemetery


We recommend the Town contract with an Architect to verify the conclusion that no additional land is needed. This would include a site plan, options for expansion, and an artist concept of what this would look like.

We recommend that an additional 12,000 square feet of floor space be added to the Safety Complex on existing town owned land, in order to satisfy the floor space needs of both the Police and Fire Departments. The most likely option would be on the back of the building, but additional options should be explored with an architect.

We recommend that the Board of Selectmen submit a  2004 Warrant Article for developing a Site Plan and an estimation of the total costs for this proposed Safety Complex Expansion. This should include addressing parking, vehicle circulation and other site issues.

We recommend that the Board of Selectmen direct the Town Manager to contact the owners of property abutting the Safety Complex and Cemetery for possible acquisition.

We recommend that the Public Safety Complex Building Committee be continued as the primary operation group to coordinate these proposed activities.