Hamilton and Ipswich will know in just a few weeks what it will take to bring both towns together in the existing emergency dispatch center in Hamilton.
On Monday night, the Hamilton Board of Selectmen will be asked to sign an intermunicipal agreement with Ipswich to undertake a Technical Feasibility Study that will look at what would be needed to connect Ipswich into the Hamilton-Wenham Emergency Center.
“(Ipswich) has agreed to take the first, bold step, formally,” said Hamilton Town Manager Michael Lombardo on Friday.
The study will cost up to $2,500 for both Hamilton and Ipswich and a draft report will be completed in 4-6 weeks.
Hamilton and Wenham have been partners at the Hamilton-Wenham Emergency Center – in the – since the 1960. It was the first of what would become many joint operations between the two towns. The center handles emergency and non-emergency police, fire and ambulance calls around the clock, 365 days per year.
Sometime in the next year, though, , which is under construction.
That has meant Hamilton part of its dispatch center to help at least hold its share of costs even, or possibly lower it. Without Wenham, it may cost Hamilton as much as $250,000 annually to keep the dispatch center running on its own. The existing center is funded not only by Wenham but by a state grant that goes to towns that work together on dispatch.
Bringing Ipswich on board would, at least, hold costs even for Hamilton as compared to the current operation with Wenham, Lombardo said.
Lombardo said if Ipswich was to go ahead with moving dispatch services to Hamilton, the move could happen when Ipswich is ready.
“We have the capacity to bring them on board as soon as they’d like,” he said.
Last November, Lombardo first told the Board of Selectmen but did not name the town. Just in the past few weeks Lombardo said it was Ipswich. And there is at least one other town that has also been discussing possibly becoming part of the Hamilton dispatch center, too, but that town has yet to be named publicly.
That town has “internal things to deal with” and talk may become more serious this summer, Lombardo said.
“I don’t want to build hope or fear in any other community needlessly,” he said.