Wenham voters may get a say at about whether they want to join a new regional dispatch center or stay with the town’s existing dispatch partner – Hamilton.
A group of residents submitted a petition on Monday seeking to ask voters at Town Meeting which dispatch scenario they prefer.
The petition includes suggested language for the Town Meeting warrant article: “To see if the town will vote to participate in the new regional emergency communication center to be constructed in Middleton or to remain with the Hamilton-Wenham Emergency Center presently housed in Hamilton.”
Last summer, to join the proposed Essex County Regional Emergency Communications Center, which will be built on the Essex County Sheriff’s Department property in Middleton.
Wenham has also told Hamilton that it plans to pull out of the Hamilton-Wenham Emergency Center, which currently handles emergency calls for both towns around-the-clock out of the Hamilton public safety building.
Hamilton leaders have yet to decide whether they want to stay in Hamilton on their own, whether they want to try to persuade another nearby town to join its existing dispatch center or whether the town plans to join the Essex County center.
The last time the Hamilton Board of Selectmen discussed the issue it didn’t make a decision and instead its decision to pull out of the Hamilton-Wenham center.
Wenham has estimated it will save about $40,000 annually by moving to the Middleton center, which is expected to be open and operating in less than two years.
Wenham would join Amesbury, Beverly, Essex, Middleton and Topsfield as the founding members of the new center.
One of the petitioners who are seeking the vote, former Selectman Don Costin, said the petition began to circulate last Friday and had collected 21 signatures by lunch.
“We had all the signatures by 11 a.m.,” he said.
Costin said the existing dispatch center in the Hamilton public safety building provides great service to both towns and is operating with new equipment.
“It’s one of the things that has always worked very well,” he said.
The petition has been passed to Town Counsel Paul Weaver for his review and whether it can go on the Town Meeting warrant. The Board of Selectmen will likely discuss it as part of its review of the proposed Town Meeting warrant when it meets next on March 15.