WATERVILLE — The city is getting closer to knowing what it would cost to build a police station at Head of Falls versus retrofitting the Morning Sentinel building for that purpose.
City Manager Michael Roy told city councilors Monday that the cost estimates should be available to the public in a week to 10 days.
Meanwhile, a meeting is scheduled for May 29 in the council chambers to allow the public to comment on and ask questions about the police station issue.
The current station in the basement of City Hall has outgrown its space, which is old, cramped, unsafe and inadequate for police needs, according to city officials.
The city in a best-case scenario could build a new station for $2.6 million and in a worst case, $2.75 million, according to numbers Roy issued earlier this year.
Councilors in April voted to hire Wright-Ryan Construction, Inc., of Portland, to help determine the best site for a police station and see the city through the construction process. Wright-Ryan will be paid up to $115,000 for the work.
The police station discussion started Monday when Western Avenue resident Don Cormier asked city officials to provide a chronology of activities pertaining to the city’s effort to find an appropriate site.
The council later voted 7-0 to postpone to June 5 a vote on whether to buy the Sentinel building for $550,000.
Mayor Karen Heck told Cormier the city is trying to get an objective cost assessment for building new or buying the Sentinel building so that the project is done in a way that is most cost effective and works best for the city.
“I would encourage you to come,” Heck said of the May 29 public meeting on the matter.
Councilor Erik Thomas, D-Ward 4, a member of the Police Station Study Committee, said the committee looked at several sites for the police station and settled on Head of Falls as the best place to build.
MaineToday Media, which owns the Morning Sentinel, initially offered the building for $1.5 million. Thomas said the price changed to $1.25 million and then was lowered to $600,000 and then $550,000.
“It was impossible to ignore a $750,000 decrease in the building, so we felt it was necessary to look at that option again,” he said.
The city was working with initial cost estimates for building new versus retrofitting the Sentinel building, but they were loose estimates, he said.
Councilors decided to hire a construction management company (Wright-Ryan) to work with the city’s architect, Port City Architects, of Portland, to look at both options, Thomas said.
 Heck said if more people come to the May 29 meeting than fit in the council chambers, the meeting may be moved to the Opera House.

Amy Calder — 861-9247
[email protected]

 


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