WATERVILLE — Waterville police and their staff plan to move into their new station on Colby Street the first week in July.
After years of working in the cramped basement of City Hall in small rooms with no windows, poor ventilation and leaky ceilings, police will be in a brand-new $3.4 million, 12,000-square-foot brick building overlooking College Avenue and Colby Circle.
The new station at 10 Colby St. is about twice the size of the current one.
“The officers are just excited beyond belief to get in here,” Chief Joseph Massey said during a recent tour of the station. “Compared to what they’re working in now, it’s just unbelievable.”
About 25 people, including city councilors, Police Station Study Committee members and others toured the building Tuesday, led by Massey, Deputy Chief Charles Rumsey and City Manager Michael Roy.
The spacious, carpeted rooms with light-colored walls and 5-by-6-foot, double-hung windows are a far cry from the smaller, darker spaces in the City Hall basement.
The communications/dispatch center and records office are off the main lobby in the new building, which faces north. The building also has offices for Massey and Rumsey, as well as patrol officers, detectives and sergeants.
Forty full-time employees, including 30 sworn officers, will work in the building, Massey said. He and Rumsey are included in that officer count.
There are locker, evidence, and booking rooms, as well as a large training room.
“We’ll continue to do regional training with other police departments,” Massey said.
A sally port for police to drive cruisers into the building with those who have been arrested was a high priority in a new facility. The new, well-lit sally port has double doors and a large area for cruisers.
“We can also wash cars in here,” Massey said.
He said there’s high security in the building. Employees will swipe a card to get into the facility and dispatchers will control the doors.
“There are outside cameras to monitor who is out there and who comes in,” Massey said.
In the current police station, the dispatch center is off a hallway that doubles as a lobby. If a person in a domestic dispute is in the lobby in the middle of the night asking for help, dispatchers often must call for an officer who is on the road, Massey said. Problems arise when the victim’s spouse or partner also come into the lobby, he said.
“That it’s a police department doesn’t stop some people,” he said.
Having the records office off the lobby in the new building also is a plus. When people come in seeking paperwork, the records clerk can more easily dispense it. The clerk’s current office is on the other side of the building from the lobby.
In the new police station, propane feeds boilers that heat water and create radiant heat in the concrete floors, according Millard Nadeau, construction superintendent for the general contractor, Wright-Ryan Construction Inc., of Portland.
“The building is 99 percent complete,” Nadeau said Wednesday.
Next week, the parking lot and driveway will be paved and landscaping done. A 6-foot-tall chain link fence also will be erected around the property, according to Nadeau.
“By next Friday, we’re hoping to be finished,” he said.
Massey said the goal is to move into the station during the first week of July.
Work on the project started Nov. 15.
“It’s quite a facility, and to go through the hard winter that we did and have it done in time is great,” Nadeau said.
During the tour, Council Chairman Erik Thomas, D-Ward, 4, said he was impressed.
“I think it’s exciting. It’s about time,” he said.
Mayor Karen Heck concurred.
“It’s under budget and on time,” she said, adding that the Colby Street site was the study committee’s first choice for a station.
Roy, the city manager, confirmed Friday that the project is under budget, expected to cost $80,000 to $100,000 less than planned.
“Although the final numbers are not known at this time, we really believe that that’s the order of magnitude it’ll be under,” he said. “The schedule had called for a completion date of early July, so they’re going to meet that — could possibly exceed it by a week or two, but maybe it’s just too close to say how much ahead.”
During the tour, he said the station will provide well for the city in the long term.
“It’s a very important investment that we made and one that’s been long overdue,” he said.
After police move, the basement space in City Hall will be used for storage and some offices, Roy said.
Amy Calder — 861-9247