Marlborough mayor gives update on regional emergency dispatch discussions

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Marlborough mayor gives update on regional emergency dispatch discussions
The Marlborough City Hall clocktower looms over downtown Marlborough.. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

MARLBOROUGH – Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant gave an update late last month on conversations the city has been having with state officials about forming a regional emergency dispatch program.

Vigeant made these comments at a City Council Finance Committee meeting on March 21, noting that the state has been actively promoting such regional dispatch systems. 

He added that he was interested in Marlborough joining a regional dispatch as long as the city is the host community with another community willing to join. 

“We don’t even know if we’re going to be on [a] list that’s coming out again in the next thirty days from the state ‘as possible sites,’” Vigeant said, though. “There’s a long way to go between now and then.”

State officials discuss dispatch with Mayor

A proposed new fire station at the intersection of Elm Street and Bigelow Street would improve response times to rapidly growing commercial and residential parts of Marlborough’s West Side. Some living near the proposed site, though, have raised concerns.
A proposed new fire station at the intersection of Elm Street and Bigelow Street would improve response times to rapidly growing commercial and residential parts of Marlborough’s West Side. Some living near the proposed site, though, have raised concerns. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

Vigeant previously noted benefits of regional dispatch formats in a letter to the City Council back in September, saying that a regional dispatch would allow more effective call-taking and standardization of protocols, as well as access to more dispatch personnel  for major events and surges of 911 calls.

Benefits would further include enhanced mutual coverage and data collection, among other things, he said.

Vigeant said that state officials had driven by property at 100 Locke Drive, the site of Marlborough’s proposed new West Side fire station and said that it would be an appropriate site for a regional dispatch center. He also said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito had been very positive about the site in conversations they had. 

Vigeant added that there would be money attached to the construction of a regional center, although the amount is currently uncertain.

“At this point we don’t have a clue whether it’s $100,000 or $5 million,” Vigeant said. 

Vigeant said that he visited an existing regional dispatch center in Foxborough and was impressed by what he saw. 

The Foxborough center currently serves four communities, with other communities looking to join.

“If you don’t get in initially, it’s a little more of a process and an expense to get in later,” Vigeant said.

Fire Chief weighs in

Marlborough Fire Chief Kevin Breen also spoke at the March 21 Finance Committee meeting, sharing his thoughts on the future of regionalized dispatch.

“Do I think that will happen in my time as a full-time firefighter? No, I don’t,” Breen said. “Do I think the future holds that type of solution for communities? Yes.”

Breen added that he did not think this transition would happen all at once, instead predicting that it would occur gradually.  

Discussions continue elsewhere in region

The prospect of a regional dispatch center has been discussed in some area communities over the last year, particularly following talks in Southborough about bringing together dispatch services for Hudson, Marlborough, Westborough, Northborough, Grafton, Hopkinton and Southborough. 

A consultant began an estimated six-month study assessing the feasibility of regionalized dispatch in these communities back in October.

Local leaders have shared their thoughts in the meantime, with Southborough Fire Chief Steven Achillies acknowledging in comments to the Community Advocate in February that some communities might have concerns.

“There’s been some very productive conversations,” he said. “…But, also, there are some areas that may cause a community to say that may be something that hinders us from doing it.”

Vigeant previously noted regional dispatch talks in his letter to the City Council in September, writing that the city had been in contact with some area communities and the state regarding the topic.

“The state is moving in this direction and we can either jump onboard now or be forced to do so in years to come,” Vigeant added at the time, noting current state financial support for regionalization projects.

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