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TOWNSEND — Townsend officials are looking for a partner to work in and share the costs of its new communications center.

Townsend is nearing completion on a $250,000 renovation of the dispatching department housed in the police station on Brookline Road, according to town administrator Greg Barnes.

Barnes plans to meet with Ashby officials this week about starting a Townsend/Ashby regional dispatching center, Barnes said.

“It’s just in the concept stages right now,” Barnes said.

But Ashby Selectman Peter McMurray prefers keeping his town’s dispatching department in town.

“Me, personally, I don’t want to see them go,” he said.

The dispatchers provide a real benefit to residents by being available 24 hours a day in case anyone needs help, McMurray said.

The police department often has one officer on duty. With that officer on patrol, no one would be available for help without the dispatchers, he said.

“They pay real big dividends for the community,” he said.

Massachusetts is gearing many state grants toward rewarding communities that start regional services, Barnes said. The

Townsend/Ashby dispatching center could bring in about $100,000 for Townsend in these types of grants, Barnes said.

McMurray is certainly willing to listen to the dispatch center proposal, he said.

Ashby is scrambling for ways to make its budget work in the economic downturn, he said.

“Every option is still open,” McMurray said.

But McMurray noted that town officials investigated joining a regional center for its dispatching services a few years ago, and learned it would be more expensive than keeping the department in town.

“You’d have to really look at the numbers,” McMurray said.

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