New Public Safety Building

Cost Estimates (updated 5/5/21)
Frequently Asked Questions (updated 4/15/21)
At the 2021 Annual Town Meeting, voters will be asked to fund the creation of design and construction documents for a new public safety building at the site of the Princeton Center School on Boylston Ave. The results of the vote will determine not just whether or not we move to the next step in the construction process, but also whether the voters prefer to build an entirely new building or build a building that incorporates part of the existing Center School building. As we get closer to Town Meeting, more details about the exact language of the warrant article or articles will be posted here. 

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Upcoming Informational Sessions (check Town calendar for virtual meeting information)
Thurs 2/25/21 at 7pm - presentation, recording of the meeting
  • 5/2017 - Voters fund four building study (Bagg Hall, Princeton Center, Annex, and Public Safety (station 1 and police)
  • 10/16/2017 - Facility Studies Committee (FSC) recommends the Town work with Jones Whitsett Architects (JWA) on the study.
  • 3/30/18 - JWA Final Report to FSC and Selectboard recommending stabilization of Bagg Hall, stabilization of public safety building (station 1 and police), stabilization of annex, and building a new Public Safety Building.
  • 5/2018 - Voters are asked to fund the design and construction documents and the full construction costs for a new public safety building. Town Meeting approved transferring $500,000 from infrastructure stabilization and borrowing $6,500,000 but voters at the ballot rejected the borrowing.
  • Summer 2018 - SB appoints FSC2 to develop and execute a communication and education plan to prepare voters for a fall special town meeting to secure funding for the development of plans and construction documents for a new public safety building to be built at the Princeton Center School site and that may or may not incorporate part of the old building.
  • Spring 2019 - FSC2 makes recommendation to SB to seek preliminary design documents for a new building
  • 5/2019 - Voters approve transferring $28,000 from free cash for design and engineering services for floor space design and conceptual elevation design of a proposed new Public Safety Building to be located on the former Center School site
  • 10/2019 - Caolo & Bieniek chosen to create of design schematics for three building options: ideal, budget, and re-using part of Princeton Center School building
  • 2/2/21 - Building Committee and Caolo & Bieniek present design options and cost estimates to Advisory Committee and Selectboard
The building team comprises Police Chief Michele Powers, Fire Chief John Bennett, Advisory Committee member Rick McCowan, Planning Board member Ian Catlow, and Selectboard Chair Karen Cruise. The team works closely with Caolo & Bieniek Architects and Town Administrator Sherry Patch.

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Caolo & Bieniek was asked to prepare floor plans and schematics for three options: ideal, budget, and re-using part of the Princeton Center School. These are referred to as options A, B, and C. A new survey of the lot uncovered large discrepencies with what the Town showed. The lot turned out to be narrower (less frontage) and smaller. With the reduced lot width, option A no longer fit on the lot. The team gave Caolo & Bieniek the go ahead to drop option A and move forward with just B and C.
The building team unanimously recommends Option B, a completely new building. Multiple issues with the existing Center School building caused the design of Option C to be significantly less functional and more expensive than Option B. Option C will be discussed in more detail below.
Option B (preferred by entire team, completely new building)
Chief Powers and Chief Bennett believe this design is very functional and efficient. Careful attention was paid to keeping contaminants separated from clean areas, keeping detainees in a controlled booking area/holding area, and ensuring first responders can access their gear quickly and efficiently to minimize response time. Much thought went into ensuring the building meets Princeton's needs for the foreseeable future without being overbuilt. Note the amount of the facility that is shared by both departments, minimizing the cost to the Town.
Option C (reuses the front 4 classrooms of the old Center School)
This design is considered to be inefficient and less functional than desired by the Police and Fire Chiefs. Though the same careful attention was paid to keeping contaminants separated from clean areas, keeping detainees in a controlled booking area/holding area, and ensuring first responders can access their gear quickly and efficiently to minimize response time, site and Center School building issues caused problems.  The existing building's first floor is five feet off the ground. Police and Fire vehicles need to be at ground level. ADA requirements forced the architects to introduce a four-stop elevator in addition to several sets of stairs that are required for egress and day-to-day use. The location of the existing building on the site does not leave room for three apparatus bays, a strict requirement for the new building.

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Cost Estimates (updated 5/5/21)

Option B (all new): $11.8 million

Option C (reuse part of school): $13.0 million

Details - Jan 11, 2021

Comparison with other towns and buildings


  • Cost estimates target the mid-point of the actual construction process.
  • Full design and construction documents completed by December 1, 2021
  • January 2022 Special Town Meeting to approve funding
  • Construction firm awarded contract March 15, 2022
  • Construction begins 4/1/2022
  • Construction complete Spring 2023

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  • Department of Public Health (DPH)
  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
  • Massachusetts Architectural Access Board (MAAB)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)