WATERVILLE — Out with the old.
In the downstairs basement of City Hall, workers on Thursday ripped up carpeting, stripped rooms of leftover material and put up new sheetrock.
Police Chief Joseph Massey wouldn’t go as far as saying that he would miss the old police station space, but did attest to the station’s importance in the department’s history.
“There are certainly a lot of memories and important history there for the police department and a lot of serious cases were investigated in that building,” Massey said, adding that he worked in the basement of Waterville City Hall for 28 years. “You can feel some nostalgia I guess after working there for that long.”
Waterville Public Works employees started the reconstruction of the old police station space, which has been vacant since the department moved into its new $3.4 million, 12,133-square-foot building on Colby Street in August.
The space that housed the police department will be converted mostly into storage space, according to City Manager Michael Roy. The City Council in August authorized $85,000 to be spent on the renovation, with money being drawn from the city’s capital investment reserve fund.
The new storage space could be up and running by June, with the rest of the basement set to be completed by this fall.
“We’ll be using the area for archival storage for the city’s financial and tax records, voting records, election records,” he said, adding that the city pays to store its abundance of documents at storage locations throughout the city. “By the end of June, we’re hoping to have all archived documents in the new storage area.”
Other uses for the renovated basement will be an improved area for the health and welfare center, which has an office in the City Hall basement, and the city’s information and technology department will be housed in the renovated space, according to Roy. City officials have been meeting for the last several months about what to do with the space, Roy said.
“We’ve been meeting as a group and figuring out what should go down there, how should we do it and how long it will take,” Roy said. “We’ve had this planned now for some time and we’ve been waiting for the availability for public works to come over. Hopefully by the fall all the changes have been made down there and the space is reused.”
The change in scenery was key to the police force, according to Massey.
“At one time we had about 100 officers in there and an adjacent building working on the Ayla case,” Massey said, referring to the massive police presence following the December 2011 disappearance of toddler Ayla Reynolds. “We certainly outgrew the space. It’s a very important part of the police department, but I’m still much happier where I am now.”