Voters to decide dispatch options

By Lisa Williams Ackley
Staff Writer

The Bridgton Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday night to let townspeople decide the matter of whether to maintain Bridgton Dispatch and improve upon what is already in place, or opt for the services of the Cumberland County Regional Communications Center.

However, they said they will wait until the town’s new police chief comes on board March 8 before making a decision whether or not to “take a stand” on the dispatch issue.

Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz said negotiations with the new police chief are wrapping up and he will first meet selectmen and police department employees the afternoon of March 8 and then will be formally introduced to the public, when the selectmen meet that same evening.

Chief of Police David Lyons retired in late November, and the search for a new police chief was begun shortly thereafter.

Dispatch decision goes to voters

Last year, a report by Public Safety Strategies Group of Massachusetts concluded the town could save money by contracting with the CCRCC.

A motion by Selectman Earl Cash, on Feb. 22, to table the dispatch issue until the new police chief takes his post failed, as no one seconded it.

A subsequent motion made to put the question before voters via referendum at the annual town meeting in June was seconded by Cash and passed unanimously.

Initially, Cash said, “I think we should wait until the new (police) chief comes on board.” Cash said he didn’t want the as yet unnamed police chief to say to them, ‘You shot the legs out from beneath me, and I don’t have a chance.’”

“I think this really is something that’s going to be up to townspeople to decide,” Selectman Woody Woodward said. “I think when he’s (the new police chief) on board, he can give his input. We definitely want his input, but I think it should be left up to the people. I’ve been getting a lot of calls on this.”

Selectman Cash replied, “It was my intent it would probably go to referendum, but I don’t want him (the new police chief) to think we made a decision for him.”

“I agree with Woody,” said Selectman Doug Taft. “The new chief coming in has really got his plate full — to put the burden on him, as he comes through the door — I have heard a lot from the community, and they do want to have their say.”

Chairman Arthur Triglione Sr. asked his fellow board members if they wanted to “take a stand” as to urging voters which way to decide the dispatch matter.

“I would rather wait until the new chief is on board,” Woodward said.

“I agree,” said Taft.

“Me, too,” Cash stated. Selectman Paul Hoyt nodded his head in agreement.

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