Regional dispatch project remains ‘on target’

By Chris Maza

LONGMEADOW – According to Select Board Chair Marie Angelides, the WESTCOMM regional emergency dispatch “appears to be on target” to open this fall.

Angelides recently reported to the board she attended a meeting along with Longmeadow Fire Chief John Dearborn, who also serves as the town’s emergency management director. She said at that meeting she was given the indication that the communications center would be operational and staffed by October.

“I think it’s important, though, that the Select Board follow and stay involved in the finances of the group,” she said. “The budget still has a lot of early start-up costs that our CFO and assistant town manager is keeping an eye on.”

She added, “As the program evolves, we should have a better idea of what our share will be annually. A lot of other towns are beginning to show interest.”

Angelides admitted worries that the budget didn’t currently account for OPEB and pension liabilities. She said once initial startup costs are addressed a plan should be developed to fund these future payroll liabilities.

In the past, Dearborn had stated the town would save a projected $1.5 million in capital costs over the next five years due to Longmeadow’s need for equipment and software upgrades.

As part of the regional emergency communications center, the town’s share of the capital expenses for upgrades would be a fraction of those necessary if the town continued to utilize its own dispatch services.

A proposed assisted living facility project on Williams Street also recently received some good news. The facility, if approved, would be located at the Williams Street synagogue property and would specifically service those with memory issues.

Angelides revealed the findings of the Conservation Commission that gave the project the green light on their end. The commission stated it found no wetlands on the property. It was noted that a large isolated wetlands area exists just off the property and the commission marked off the 100-foot protected area.

“I want to thank the Conservation Commission for their work,” Angelides said. “It’s a complicated process that requires a lot of knowledge and we’re fortunate to have so many members of our community that can serve on that board.”

The project still needs the approval of the Planning Board.

It was also noted that a new office building is proposed for the Dwight Street development and the developers recently adjusted their stormwater plans with the Planning Board.

In addition, Pride Stores resubmitted plans to update its Longmeadow Street facility near the border of Enfield, Connecticut.