Camille Alberti and First Selectman Mark Nickerson at a Tuesday night meeting of the Public Safety Building Vision Committee (CT Examiner/McDermott)

Code Variance Brings $268,000 in Savings for East Lyme Public Safety Building Project

EAST LYME — The State Building Inspector granted a code variance for the planned public safety complex, allowing the town to forego about $268,000 of structural reinforcements usually required for police buildings, officials said at a Tuesday night meeting.

“It was nice to receive that,” said Selectman Paul Dagle at the Tuesday night meeting of the Public Safety Building Vision Committee, which he chairs.

East Lyme voters approved spending $5 million to purchase and renovate the former Honeywell office building at 277 West Main Street as a public safety complex that would host the town’s police, fire marshall, and other emergency services.

Dagle and other members of the committee have said they would also consider asking the town to spend additional money on the project if the costs for added services such as a sally port and detention cells are in the town’s best interests.

The committee approved a schematic design for the renovated complex in December, and since then staff at the architecture firm Silver / Petrucelli + Associates have been working on more detailed construction designs. After these designs are complete, the committee will send them out to bid.

The most recent figures presented by Silver Petrucelli for the structural reinforcements, which now appear unnecessary, estimated that they would cost approximately $268,000. 

Typically, under state building code, a building housing police services would be required to have these reinforcements, which architect Brian Cleveland of Silver Petrucelli said at a previous meeting is intended to increase their durability in case of an earthquake and other extreme events. 

“It was a state code modification that we requested,” Cleveland said in an interview after Tuesday’s meeting, “and the State Building Inspector’s office determined that we can maintain the existing risk category of the building.”

Dagle said that public and private groups frequently make requests of the state for modifications to the requirements of building codes.

“The state does issue modifications all over the code constantly,” he said. “Whether it’s new construction or rehabilitation, they have the authority to do that.”

At the same meeting, Board of Finance Chair Camille Alberti told the committee that the finance board would ask for more detailed information about the project’s costs if additional funding was requested for the construction.

“If you were to come back to ask for additional appropriations we came up with a list of items that we would like to see … It tries to capture all of the expenses of the project regardless of the source of funding and regardless of the timing of the purchase,” Alberti told the committee.

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