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New Springfield Police Building To Be Named In Memory of Former Chief

exterior of a former U.S. Army reserve center that is to become a Springfield Police Dept Annex.

A closed U.S. Army reserve center in western Massachusetts will be renovated for various uses by the Springfield Police Department.

The federal government turned over the former reserve center complex located in east Springfield to the city free of charge, but with a deed restriction that it be used only for law enforcement purposes.  The police academy, tactical response unit, property division, and youth services will occupy the former military building after renovations are completed in about 18 months.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said the city had eyed the reserve center for police uses for some time.

" For a number of years we have continued to expand policing into the neighborhoods, but obviously we need physical plant," said Sarno.

Police Commissioner John Barbieri said the police academy, which has moved from one temporary location to another for the last several years, will now have a permanent home.

" It will give us the type of training in a professional atmosphere that is required for modern day policing in a modern day society," said Barbieri.

Also, the police department will be able to give up expensive leased space it uses for a juvenile detention center.

" We don't want to traumatize children when they come in contact with the police," said Barbieri. " We want to take them someplace that does not look like a jail.  This will be an office-like setting where we can arrange for services or transportation."

Barbieri said roughly 6,500 square feet will be used for long-term storage of evidence in criminal cases.

" DNA in cases like homicides have appeal processes that require lengthy storage," he said.

The former Arthur MacArthur United States Army Reserve Center was closed in 2005 as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. A reserve center in Chicopee and one in Windsor Locks, Connecticut were closed at the same time and the operations of the three centers consolidated in a new building that was constructed at the Westover Air Force Reserve Base.

Congressman Richard Neal supported the city’s bid to reuse the reserve center.

" I am delighted," said Neal.  " There will still be two-year inspections by the federal government."

The renovated facility will be dedicated The Paul J. Fenton Public Safety Annex in memory of the former Springfield police chief, who died in 2007.

Timothy Fenton, who recently retired as a Springfield police officer, said the complex will be his father’s lasting legacy.

" It is not an easy time for police right now, that is for sure and to have this is very positive," he said.

Renovating the 15,000-square-foot building for the public safety uses is estimated to cost $10-$12 million. The city next month will formally seek bids to do the work.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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