By Katina Caraganis
DEVENS -- The four communities comprising Nasboba Valley Regional Dispatch Center must refile legislation to allow them to form the district because their original filing two years ago was never approved.
Lunenburg Town Manager Kerry Speidel said the legislation was approved by the Senate but the House committee that must approve it has not had a chairman, thus prohibiting formal approval.
Because a new delegation has been sworn into office, Speidel said the legislation will have to be refiled to gain approval.
"It will be critical to do that because it gives us the authority to move forward with this," Speidel said. "The legislative delegation representing all four entities worked very hard to get this through. It wasn't for lack of anything on their part."
Speidel said everyone from Gov. Deval Patrick's office to the state 911 program has advocated on the district's behalf, but to no avail.
"It is frustrating because it makes the process more cumbersome," she said. "Right now, the authority still falls under MassDevelopment rather than the independent district. We're not a legal entity until this gets approved."
Ground has already been broken on the project, Speidel said, and the leadership team in place has found ways to keep the project moving forward.
"We don't have the luxury of stopping and waiting for legislation. Sooner or later, we will need to have the legislation signed and ready to go," she said.
Lunenburg, Lancaster, Harvard and Devens will all be a part of the dispatch center, at 270 Barnum Road in Devens, with Lunenburg slated to be the first community to move into the building when it becomes operational July 1.
It's anticipated that each community will save $100,000 annually.
Each community will keep its own station to serve as a walk-in police station lobby for the public, while all calls will be dispatched from Devens.
Speidel said the Lunenburg Public Safety Facility on Massachusetts Avenue will remain open during normal business hours Monday through Friday, and outside of those times it will be staffed on a limited basis.
"We'll need to figure out how to staff it during the off-times. We're not mixing public-safety officials," she said. "Lunenburg calls for fires will be answered by Lunenburg firefighters, and the same with the police. We participate in mutual aid now with both police and fire, which will continue, but we will not be pooling any of our resources."
It is anticipated there will be enough dispatcher job openings in the new dispatch center for all interested parties from the four communities, Speidel said.
The center will occupy 5,000 square feet in a 25,000-square-foot building. The Evergreen Garden Play School also has space in the building and will continue to occupy its 10,000-square-foot area in an adjacent wing of the complex.
The school and the dispatch center will be separated by an empty space that those involved with the project hope will be filled if and when the center expands beyond the initial four member communities.
Bulletproof glass will be installed and a radio tower will be erected across the street to aid in signal reach.
Assessments for all communities will be the same: $174,030 in the first year, $183,487 in the second, $192,623 in the third, $203,482 in the fourth, and $213,480 in the fifth.
Every community in the state is now required to provide emergency medical dispatch, which would require dispatchers to administer basic instructions to callers on dealing with various medical situations.
While it doesn't require the town to hire additional dispatchers, Speidel said given the current call volume that dispatch receives, it would be inevitable.
Currently, Lunenburg has one dispatcher per shift, unless a special detail is being performed. Dispatchers also work with a supervisor onsite outside normal business hours.
If Lunenburg had not joined the regional dispatch center, the additional cost to add four dispatchers in the current fiscal year would have been $510,180.
Follow Katina Caraganis on Twitter @kcaraganis.