MassDevelopment breaks ground for new Devens public safety building
October 20, 2023 : The Harvard Press, John Osborn
|Artist’s sketch of the new Devens public safety building. (Courtesy photo)|
At their once-a-year meeting in Devens last week, members of the MassDevelopment board of directors approved and broke ground for construction of a new, cutting-edge public safety building to serve the businesses and residences of the agency-managed community.
The project involves transformation of a partially vacant MassDevelopment-owned building at 270 Barnum Road into a state-of-the-art facility that will serve as the new home for the Devens Fire Department, the Massachusetts State Police, and the Nashoba Valley Regional Dispatch District.
Once completed, the 30,745-square-foot full-service public safety building will encompass a new apparatus bay to house fire and ambulance vehicles, living quarters for firefighters, administrative and working spaces, dedicated conference facilities for safety training and local emergency management operations, and an exterior tower designed to facilitate regular training exercises.
The building will also incorporate eco-friendly features, including solar panels and electric charging stations, to reduce its environmental impact.
Construction of the $20.8 million project is slated to begin in October 2023, with full operational readiness expected by the summer of 2025. MassDevelopment secured a $4.6 million federal Defense Community Infrastructure Pilot (DCIP) Program grant for the project, with the agency covering the remaining costs.
Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao, who chairs MassDevelopment’s board of directors, emphasized the significance of the project, saying, “Investing in a new, larger state-of-the-art public safety building reflects Devens’ role as a growing, 21st-century community and strengthens the capacity of its first responders.”
MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera echoed this sentiment, highlighting the importance of consolidating the various first responders into one efficient facility. “The new public safety building at 270 Barnum Road will bring a modern public safety facility to the modern public safety force we have serving Devens today,” he said.
Agency officials say the current Devens fire station, built in 1965 with a 1987 addition, is no longer capable of meeting the needs of the growing residential and business community. Several pieces of firefighting apparatus and equipment are stored outdoors or in other locations due to space constraints, and the building does not comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards for public access.
MassDevelopment’s decision to repurpose the 270 Barnum Road building for fire and EMS services followed a feasibility study conducted by Winter Street Architects in 2019. The Devens Enterprise Commission approved a site permit in April 2023 and MassDevelopment awarded a construction contract to D.A. Sullivan & Sons, Inc. in September 2023, with City Point Partners serving as the owner’s project manager.
MassDevelopment is the state’s development finance agency and land bank, responsible for the sale of parcels zoned for development at the former Army base and for providing municipal government and services, such as fire and police, to residents and businesses there. The DEC is the area’s permitting agency, but also functions as the area’s board of health, conservation commission, planning board, and historical commission.