WATERVILLE — A definitive site for a new police station remains unknown.

On Tuesday, the city council voted, 4-3, to table a resolution that would have named Head of Falls as the future site of the Waterville police station, and would have ended a year-long search for a suitable location.

The vote followed a public meeting Tuesday during which Allan Rancourt, chairman of the Police Station Study Committee, and City Manager Mike Roy presented information on the location search.

More than 30 people attended the meeting. The majority of residents who spoke were in opposition of the plan.

Pamela Kick, vice president of the Waterville Development Corporation, questioned the wisdom of locating the police department near an emerging park.

“We’ve just started to get a beautiful plaza down there. We’re just starting to build it up,” she said. “In none of the proposals for the planning board down there was (a police station) ever part of the vision.”

Rancourt said police presence at the park would improve the viability of development at the waterfront.

“That river front property, Pam, is a place now where indigents, drug dealers and homeless people are,” he said. “If developers see what was down there last summer, they’re not going to want to put capital into those lots to build anything.”

Many people said they would prefer retrofitting an existing building, particularly the fire station, for use by the police department.

Roy said he costs of retrofitting rival that of new construction. The fire station, in particular, is a bad fit.

“It’s like a square peg and a round hole,” he said.

Roy said the city had hired two architects to look at the fire station for a possible redesign to accommodate both the fire department and police. The architects determined it wasn’t cost effective or appropriate, Roy said.

Councilor Erik Thomas made the motion to table the vote on the resolution until Jan. 17.

Thomas reasoned that whatever the council decides, the city would have to live with the outcome for the next 50 years.

Mayor Dana Sennett said enough time and thought had already gone into the proposal.

“Somebody has to make a decision on whether we’re going to build this police station or not,” he said. “You can postpone it and talk about it all night, but someday, somehow, somebody is going to have to step forward and have the courage to make a decision on whether we’re going to have a decent police station in the city of Waterville or if we’re going to have some renovated facility.”

Planning began in August 2010 when the Police Station Study Committee was formed.

In November 2010, the committee concluded that the current police station — in the basement of City Hall — is inadequate, and should be relocated to another downtown location, according to the study material.

The Head of Falls parking area, off Front Street, is owned by the city. If the resolution is passed, the city will construct an 11,500-square-foot building at an estimated cost of $2.5 million.

The project would add an estimated $91,000 per year for 25 years to the city budget. Under such a budget increase, a home assessed at $100,000, for instance, would see a tax increase of $35 per year.

Also at the meeting, the council voted to table a second reading of an order to establish a tax increment financing district for Kennebec Valley Gas Company’s proposed pipeline.

That matter will also be addressed on Jan. 17.

Ben McCanna — 861-9239

[email protected]

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