With the encouragement of nearby residents, Yale intends to build a new police station at a site behind the Grove Street Cemetery in the Dixwell neighborhood.

The University has acquired property at the corner of Ashmun and Lock streets — two blocks away from Swing Space — for the new headquarters of the Yale Police Department.

The new station, a significant upgrade from the department’s current home on Sachem Street, will provide a reassuring police presence for the surrounding Dixwell neighborhood while also serving as a community facility, said Bruce Alexander, Yale’s vice president of New Haven and state affairs.

Although the building is still in the planning stages, there is space set aside for a community meeting room and smaller rooms that can be used for tutoring and mentoring programs.

The goal is “knitting the University police department and this neighborhood together,” Alexander said.

Approximately $12 million for the project has been set aside in the University budget, with the majority planned for fiscal year 2003, which begins next July.

The University will also help maintain a park nearby.

Yale Police Chief James Perrotti said the interaction that will take place between the department and the neighborhood at the new site is unprecedented.

“This is really the first time we’ve had an opportunity like this,” Perrotti said. “We’re really excited to be part of the Dixwell community.”

Dixwell residents said they are pleased to welcome the police station.

“I am all for it,” said Lori Frazier, a member of the community group Dixwell Management Team and a resident of nearby Bristol Street. “I truly feel safer knowing that the Yale Police Department is in the area.”

Perrotti also noted that the new location’s proximity to Swing Space and a thoroughfare to Science Hill will allow the department to serve campus better.

“Operationally, it will be much better for us,” Perrotti said.

The University police station is now located on Sachem street, one block from Ingalls Rink. The building was originally a two-family house.

During the time the department has been in that facility, the force has grown from approximately 45 to 80 sworn officers.

Many of those new officers have been women, and the current building lacks the space for facilities — such as locker rooms — to accommodate them, Perrotti said.

The history of the Lock Street site has been contentious.

For years the site was the home of an American Linens building, but in February of 1999 the AAIS Corporation, an asbestos-removal service, made plans to purchase the property. Community residents were unhappy, fearing the company’s trucks would increase traffic in the neighborhood, and approached the University for help.

After holding a series of community meetings, Alexander saw clear support for Yale to purchase the property and relocate the YPD.

“They thought that was a good and strong idea because it would be a good anchor to that community,” Alexander said.

Perrotti said the department’s officers are equally happy about the upcoming move.

“It will be a tremendous morale booster,” he said.

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