WATERVILLE — Now that the city has decided to build a police station at Head of Falls, architects will start on the design, City Manager Michael Roy said Friday.

City officials have already worked with Port City Architecture, of Portland, to determine space needs for areas inside the Police Department, including dispatch and patrol, Roy said.

In the next month, they will meet with architects to determine how the station will be laid out — whether it will be one story or two and whether it will have brickwork and the like, he said.

“We’re also looking at the construction management approach to building where, instead of bidding it out in the traditional sense, we would advertise and interview contractors and select a contractor we feel is best for the project, and then have that contractor work directly with the architect,” Roy said.

The expected cost for the project will be between $2.5 and $2.75 million, he said. The size of the building is expected to be between 10,000 and 11,000 square feet.

If all goes according to plan, construction would start mid-summer and the new police station would be ready for occupancy by Jan. 1, according to Roy.

“Our whole focus from the beginning was to try to plan a construction project that was bid out in late winter and early spring and have construction start long before the fall so that it would be done before the end of 2012,” he said.

The police station will be built on what is now a paved parking lot at Head of Falls.

Roy said the city plans to talk with railroad officials about buying a grassy area between the railroad tracks and the parking lot where the station will be built. The lawn area is one-third of an acre and would be purchased for additional parking, he said.

The Morning Sentinel has an agreement with the city dating back to 1996 that allows the Sentinel to have parking rights to 20 spaces in the city’s lot. Roy said the city intends to honor the agreement.

“I believe we’re going to be able to provide that same number of spaces (to the Sentinel),” he said.

While the police station is being built, drivers will park elsewhere, he said. He said that, hopefully, the lot next to City Hall where Opera House construction now is taking place will be available. Additional parking will be available at Head of Falls, on the north side of the access road into the waterfront site, he said.

Roy said that when the Police Department vacates its current home in the basement of City Hall, that space will be used for storage and archives. The city now stores its paper records in various places, including The Center, Fire Department and Public Works Department.

Construction of a police station will represent the city’s final planned major capital improvement project, following other projects that have been completed or are in progress. They include work at the Fire Department, Public Works Department, Waterville Public Library, Waterville Senior High School and Waterville Opera House.

City councilors voted 5-2 Tuesday to build the police station at Head of Falls. Roy said the city for years has recognized the need for a new station.

He said he is pleased councilors decided to go forward with the waterfront site to build a headquarters for the Police Department, which needs security and safety more than any other city department. Police have been housed in the basement for about 40 years in what city officials say is a cramped, antiquated and inadequate space that puts the public and those arrested in the same lobby. Also, having better quarters for police is important, given changes in society that include more drugs and a different atmosphere overall, Roy said.

Police Chief Joseph Massey said Friday that the police station has been a long time coming and having a new home for officers and staff is a wonderful thing.

“We’ve been in this very uncomfortable, inadequate workspace for all these years and it’s time to get a new public safety building,” he said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

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