Select Board approves regional dispatch agreement with Westfield

From left: Chief Administrative Officer Karl J. Stinehart, Select Board member Douglas A. Moglin, Select Board Chair Joseph J. Deedy, Select Board member Russell S. Fox, and Select Board secretary Robin Solek prepare for the first hybrid Select Board meeting since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. (PETER CURRIER/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

SOUTHWICK- The Select Board unanimously approved an Inter-Municipal Agreement (IMA) with the City of Westfield June 28 to create a regional dispatch center between the two communities. 

The Select Board passed the IMA with no discussion during the meeting. The IMA can now be signed by Southwick’s Chief Administrative Officer Karl J. Stinehart.

Westfield’s City Council voted unanimously to approve the IMA June 17, and was signed by Mayor Donald F. Humason Jr. June 18. 

During the June 17 City Council meeting, Ward 6 City Councilor William Onyski touted the grant funding that would be made available to both communities after the IMA is fully passed.

“It opens up the door for millions of dollars of grants that Westfield otherwise would not get if they remained on their dispatch and Southwick remained on their own dispatch,” said Onyski. 

Westfield’s Public Safety Communications Director Nina Barszcz said in recent weeks that she estimates that getting the infrastructure for the regional dispatch center in place will take approximately 12 to 18 months. 

Westfield’s emergency dispatch budget is approximately $750,000. Onyski said that it could drop to just $20,000 with the expected grant funding. 

The terms of the agreement between the two municipalities are for a possible total of nine years. It begins with a three-year term that can be extended with three additional two year terms. After that, a new IMA would need to be signed. 

“At the end it would be another IMA, we would go through this process again,” said Westfield City Solicitor Shanna Reed, “During that time frame, maybe a full regionalization is something we can look forward to at that point.”

Southwick had been looking into joining the Westcomm regional dispatch center in Chicopee, but the town ultimately chose to commit to working with Westfield. The Select Board voted to rescind its interest in the Westcomm dispatch center during the June 14 Select Board meeting.

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