By Steve Jusseaume

Hampton Union, Friday, August 1, 2003

HAMPTON – If the devil is in the details, the Evil One came to Hampton this week, and a two dozen-member team of town officials, architects and construction representatives made a valiant attempt to keep him at bay, meeting for more than two hours at a pre-construction conference on the town’s $6.3 million police facility.

Meeting Thursday morning at the town office building, the group poured over the minutiae of building the facility, dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” that could be found or imagined.

From issuing weekly construction reports to payroll time tables to the color of the perimeter site fencing to pencil drawings versus ink, the group set down the so-called rules of engagement on the massive project.

Town Manager James Barrington, Police Chief Bill Wrenn, Building Inspector Kevin Schultz, and clerk-of-the-works Dick Violette attended, as well as Hugh Schweitzer of the architectural firm Kaestle Boos and Michael Whitcher of the construction company hired to do the job, David R. Whitcher Builder, Inc.

Of particular note: the building permits needed to begin construction will arrive at the building department next week; pile driving will begin in mid-August and take approximately three weeks to complete; and the perimeter fence will be six feet high and topped with barbed wire.

Police Chief Wrenn noted that according to the construction plans, the police department’s secure parking facility will be impacted by the work, which might force police to use part of the Ashworth Avenue parking lot.

“Parking will be an issue only until the Seafood Festival,” Wrenn said, noting however that next summer parking at the beach, or the lack thereof, will be a serious issue.

Whitcher noted that pile driving will take place between about 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily in August and early September, and will be “noisy.”

“There’s no way to get around that,” Whitcher said, asking town officials why recent approval of a private development project included a prohibition against pile driving during the summer months.

“This project is different,” one town official said, prompting Wrenn to add, “You can start driving pile tomorrow if you want.” Substantial construction is due to begin within two weeks.