Town Manager Norman Khumalo announced Monday that a public information session regarding the proposed regional emergency communication center (RECC) will be held Wednesday, Jan. 4, at the Hopkinton Senior Center.
A feasibility study was presented to the Select Board at its Sept. 20 meeting. The study suggested that seven towns would be well-suited for establish an RECC that could offer multiple operational and financial benefits. An addendum was issued earlier this month, with the list of towns considering participation down to four: Hopkinton, Grafton, Southborough and Westborough.
Some individuals spoke out at the most recent Select Board meeting against the proposal, saying that any cost savings would come at a potential risk to safety.
However, Fire Chief Bill Miller voiced support for the plan.
“As fire chief, it is my sworn duty to provide the best service to the residents and visitors of the Town of Hopkinton,” Miller stated in a town press release. “A regional dispatch center would help bring our department’s communications to the next level. [An] RECC would allow for multiple fire telecommunicators working at one time, and for those telecommunicators to focus on effective call-taking, emergency responses and resource allocation, using state-of-the-art technology. We work closely with the proposed RECC towns, which would also enhance our mutual aid system and standardize protocols in the region. [An] RECC would help us to collaborate with neighboring municipalities to provide these core services as efficiently as possible.”
According to the press release, Hopkinton would take steps to avoid making residents feel unsafe.
“The communities are also working to address a primary concern of regionalization, which is unstaffed ‘dark stations’ during non-business hours,” the release reads. “Should the Town of Hopkinton move forward with dispatch regionalization, the Police Department would remain open to the public at all times.”
“The continued safety, well-being and comfort of our community is our primary goal, and we want to reassure residents that police department services would be maintained at the high level they have become accustomed to,” Police Chief Joseph Bennett said, via the release. “We realize the importance and value of 24/7 access to public safety services, and should the Town proceed with a RECC, the Hopkinton Police Department will always remain open to the public and will not go ‘dark.’ ”
Town officials and members of the Select Board are planning to visit other RECCs in the state to learn about their operations, the release stated.
“The town continues to do our due diligence in evaluating whether dispatch regionalization is suitable for our community, and an important part of this process is to hear from our residents. We hope that residents will take advantage of the information session and office hours to ask questions and allow us to address concerns,” Town Manager Khumalo said. “Overall, our main goal at the conclusion of this process is to maintain the high level of emergency communications services that our first responders and community members expect and deserve.”
Added Communications Director Meaghan DeRaad, “As we move forward we will work diligently to find the answers we need in order to support the best decision for the community.”
In addition to the information session, residents will be able to learn more during Town Hall office hours to be announced. Questions also can be submitted via firstname.lastname@example.org.