WATERVILLE — City councilors on Tuesday tabled a vote on whether to build a $2.5 million police station at Head of Falls after the chairman said the Morning Sentinel now is asking a quarter million dollars less for the newspaper’s Front Street building.

Chairman Charles “Fred” Stubbert Jr. said he received a letter from a brokerage firm representing the Sentinel and  offering a lower price for the newspaper’s building. The building had been in the running for a police station before the Head of Falls site became the preferred option.

The Sentinel building already exists, is in a great location and would cost a minimal amount of money to renovate for police, according to Stubbert.

Councilors voted 6-1 to table the vote until their next meeting, Tuesday, Feb. 7

Robert Baldacci, of Baldacci Real Estate Group of Portland, representing MaineToday Media,  was not allowed to speak on the topic to the council after the item was tabled, but was told he could do so during public comments at the end of the meeting.

As the council moved to another matter, Baldacci said in the hallway outside the council chambers that he planned to tell councilors later in the meeting that the newspaper will offer to sell its building to the city for $1.25 million instead of its original price of $1.5 million.

He said the estimated cost for the city to renovate the Sentinel building is $500,000.

“That is $600,000 to $700,000 less than what the city is looking at spending for the Head of Falls site,” Baldacci said.

The Sentinel, he said, has plenty of parking and is a bigger building than what is proposed for Head of Falls.

“They’ve (councilors) already decided to table it, which is good, but hopefully, they’ll give us the opportunity to work with the architect,” he said.

Baldacci  said his brokerage firm, which includes Tony Armstrong, has a listing agreement with MaineToday Media for the Sentinel building.

He said he understood the city was planning on moving ahead with the Head of Falls site as there were enough votes on the council to approve it, but it was clear from Tuesday’s meeting that that was not the case.

The city had considered four sites for a new police station: the Sentinel building at 31 Front St., located across the street from City Hall; Head of Falls, also off Front Street; land on Colby Circle, north of City Hall; and the former Social Security building next to the police station.

The Police Station Study Committee recommended building at Head of Falls and Port City Architecture had produced drawings of a proposed station there. Stubbert, who is on the study committee, was one of two people on that panel who voted against building at Head of Falls. Councilor Erik Thomas, D-Ward 4, agreed a vote should not be taken Tuesday on Head of Falls.

“I’m not ready to vote in favor of it tonight, that’s for sure,” he said.

Karen Rancourt-Thomas, D-Ward 7, voted not to table.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

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