New $34 Million Municipal Complex in Plainville Improves Town Services and Enhances Health and Wellbeing of Emergency First Responders
Construction of Town Hall and Public Safety Building Funded by Revenue from Plainridge Park Casino, Plainville’s Largest Taxpayer
At a recent Massachusetts Gaming Commission public meeting, Plainville officials presented gaming commissioners with details about the Town’s new $34 million municipal complex. The recently completed town hall and adjacent public safety building has significantly improved public services for the community, provides town employees and emergency first responders with state-of-the-art facilities, and it was all accomplished without any cost to Plainville residents.
The new complex was built solely with monies from the town’s gaming capital stabilization fund, financed with revenue provided by Plainridge Park Casino. The $250 million slots-only facility is Plainville’s largest taxpayer and gives the Town $2.5 million in annual real estate and property tax, increasing by 2.5 percent each year. The host community agreement between Plainville and PPC also requires the casino to pay community impact fees that total $2.7 million per year for the first five years of operation. For years 6-10, PPC will pay the town 1.5 percent of its gross gaming revenue. After 11 years of operation, PPC will pay Plainville 2 percent of gross gaming revenue.
Before the completion of the complex, the Plainville Fire Department and Police Department worked in a combined (and cramped) public safety facility. The building was originally constructed in 1964 for a trucking company and later converted to a combined facility for the two departments in 1973.
As emergency service runs nearly quadrupled annually for the Fire Department, the building didn’t meet codes for ADA accessibility and contained hazardous materials like asbestos, according to the Plainville Building Committee.
“Right around the time that the casino opened, volume went up, so we changed our staffing level,” Plainville Fire Chief Justin Alexander said. “But in order to house the additional staff, we had to put the trucks outside, and that doesn’t work well with water in the winter.”
Given the lack of space available, fire trucks were stacked in front of each other, and firefighters’ gear was kept across a busy street. The challenging logistics of accessing the appropriate truck and required equipment had the potential to add minutes to emergency response times.
Also, the building lacked training space, employee locker rooms, and secured storage space.
Meanwhile, the Town Hall, built in 1938 as a fire station, lacked meeting space and records storage. A computer server room performed double-duty as a break room for employees. The facility also failed to meet local, state and federal codes, and posed “a lack of security and high maintenance costs.”
But all of that was about to change. Town administrators used newly available capital improvement funding to plan, design, and build a stunning and highly efficient municipal complex. The result is a remarkable and significant upgrade from the previously inadequate and inefficient administrative facilities.
The new town hall and public safety facility was built adjacent to the pre-existing library, accomplishing a downtown feel and a centered district for residents. Built in close proximity to the town center and designed to complement the library’s façade, the modern complex creates a sense of community, according to Town Administrator Jennifer Thompson.
Ms. Thompson told the gaming commission that Plainville made a smart decision early on during casino negotiations. She said the Town had learned a valuable lesson after losing operating revenues from a now-defunct landfill. After the landfill closed, Plainville was faced with a fiscal crisis, including layoffs. She further noted that the Town had not invested in infrastructure for decades because “the town simply didn’t have the money to do it.”
Becoming a host community to a gaming facility presented Plainville with an opportunity to contemplate innovative ways to address the Town’s growing needs. Officials sought special legislation to create a fund that would address a “significant need for capital investments,” citing aging infrastructure and facilities. The goal was to achieve tangible, material, and long-lasting benefits for the town.
The complex, which is now accessible to all and fully compliant to code, features new offices throughout Town Hall, increased space for police to process information and conduct investigations, and more living quarters, training rooms and storage spaces for the fire station. The public safety department also features impressive advanced technology that supports the health, safety, and wellbeing of the town’s crisis responders.
For example, the fire station includes dedicated space to properly store contaminated gear, alongside a separate room that features a special washing machine and two dryers to remove much of the toxic carcinogens from the firefighters’ uniforms. After the gear is cleaned, it’s placed in a storage room that’s sealed with special doors, where exhaust fans can remove any toxic vapors coming from the gear and filter them outside. Furthermore, the fire department has a heated decontamination unit. In this room, firefighters ride an exercise bike for up to 15 minutes to build up a sweat, allowing toxins to be cleansed from their skin’s pores.
“Those beautiful buildings, one of the things I’m most proud of is they’re designed to deal with the Town of Plainville for the next 50 years,” Jeff Johnson, Chairman of the Board of Selectman, said. “It feels big when you walk in, open and airy, and that’s great. But, it also feels like as Plainville grows, we’re going to grow into those buildings even better, and I don’t have to go back to the townspeople in five years and say, ‘We need to build an addition.’”
The adjoining police department and fire station were designed to maximize the efficiency of shared space, including a highly secure front lobby, a dispatch and emergency operations center, a general training room, and multiple service areas.
“This is such a wonderful story to tell,” Jennifer Thompson said during the MGC public meeting. “We were able to build a municipal facility without using one dollar of tax dollars, which was amazing. We didn’t have to raise taxes to do it. We want to thank the citizens of Plainville, who supported us, thank the Gaming Commission, who has been incredible and supportive of us.”
The MGC would like to congratulate the Town of Plainville on their new municipal complex and applaud them for the years of hard work and dedication that went into making this impressive development a reality for the Plainville community.