OAKLAND — Resident Kevin Purnell looked at the artist renderings of a proposed municipal building for town, police and fire offices.

Purnell counted himself among those who are sold on the project.

“To me, it’s a no-brainer,” Purnell said, looking at the drawings. “We’re a great little community. We’ve had some growth, we have great schools, and you want a nice community base. All three of these buildings need a major overhaul, so I just think it’s a need.”

His comments came Wednesday night following a public presentation on a proposal for a new building housing the fire station, the Police Department and town offices. Held at the Oakland Fire Station, the short presentation attracted about 20 people.

Dave Groder, chairman of the 12-member Building Study Committee, talked about the existing spaces and the work the committee has done since the group was formed by the Town Council two years ago.

Groder said the idea was to create a long-lasting, workable space for municipal departments while keeping them in the “focal point of our town’s downtown.”

Plans call for a two-story, 27,000-square-foot building to replace the three individual buildings standing beside each other. Town officials say it will solve space, safety and energy-efficiency problems that have plagued the municipal departments for years.

Town officials are requesting $12,500 at the May 3 annual Town Meeting to pay design firm Sheridan Corp. to the make final adjustments to the proposed building’s design and to determine the building’s heating system and whether that would save money.

It costs more than $20,000 annually to heat all three existing buildings, Groder said.

“The intent is to build a building that would last between 75 and 100 years,” Groder said. “It’s hard to figure whether there’s a gain or not (with energy savings), but one would only think there is a gain.”

A final vote on the project is scheduled for the Nov. 8 referendum. If approved, construction could begin in spring 2012 and would last eight months.

Estimates put the cost of construction at $3.7 million, but Groder said other building expenses are expected to drive the total price tag closer to $4.5 million.

Groder said the town is well positioned to take on the expense of the new building, because the town’s only remaining debt is $70,000 on a bond for the library, and that debt will be paid off next year. If the town government financed the project over 25 years, that would cost Oakland residents an additional $65 per $100,000 of property value, Groder said.

The building would be constructed on the same site where those departments are located, at the corner of Fairfield Street and Kennedy Memorial Drive. Groder said the existing fire station would be demolished prior to construction, and the town and police buildings could be demolished later.

Police Capt. Rick Stubbert said the police station, a former house, is unsafe and cramped. A hole recently appeared in the floor of its only bathroom, he said.

“It’s a house we’ve been trying to turn into a police department for years, and it just doesn’t work,” Stubbert said. “It’s not functional.”

During the presentation, resident Bill Rose peppered Groder with several questions about the project, asking whether the town also should consider consolidating its police and fire services with neighboring Waterville and Winslow to save money.

Even so, Rose said he plans to support the project.

“They need new buildings,” he said.

Scott Monroe — 861-9239

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