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Norfolk

DA may move back to Dedham

Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey is looking to move his office back to Dedham, and the impending move of the Dedham police station may give him the opportunity to do it.

Town officials also want the district attorney’s office back in the community, saying it would be a boon for local businesses.

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“We are very much convinced that it’s of great benefit to have the district attorney’s office back in Dedham Square,” Michael Butler, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said recently. “We think that’s one of the best moves we can make.”

Michael Connolly, a spokesman for the DA, said it used to be at the intersection of Washington and High streets, but that building needed repairs.

In one instance, pieces of concrete fell and collapsed a state trooper’s desk in the basement of the former office, Connolly said. “If he had been there, he would have died.”

The building was condemned and the district attorney’s office in 2000 was moved more than 5 miles away to Shawmut Road in Canton.

“We never wanted to move out; there wasn’t a choice,” Connolly said. Travel to the district and superior courts, which used to be within walking distance of the district attorney’s office, is now a 15-minute drive,

If the move is approved, however, the district attorney probably will not use the circa-1962 police station building, which may be torn down to make way for a newer facility, according to Butler. A new building could feature a restaurant with the district attorney occupying the second and third floors, he said.

Replacing the police station, at the same intersection where the Norfolk County district attorney’s office used to be, has been a top priority of Town Administrator William Keegan and other officials for years.

The Building, Planning, and Construction Committee had settled on a former parking lot of St. Mary of the Assumption Church on High Street for a new police station, and a bid request went out in December.

However, selectmen this year stumbled upon an alternative, locating the police station in a new municipal campus facility on Rustcraft Road, a plan that is now being examined.

As part of that process, Butler is looking into what the town could do with the facilities a Rustcraft Road building would replace, including the police station and Town Hall.

Connolly said he didn’t know who will make the final decision on moving the district attorney’s office, or when the decision will be made.

Butler, Keegan, and other town officials discussed the idea with the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance. The division’s spokeswoman, Rachel Neff, said the agency is only providing advice at this time, but Keegan said future negotiations on a lease could be conducted with the agency. “We need their support early on, so we’re getting them involved with the process,” Butler said.

Dave Eisenstadter can be reached at eisen.globe@g-
mail.com
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