WATERVILLE — It looks as if the new police station may not be at Head of Falls after all.

City councilors tonight are expected to vote to change the location to Colby Circle, according to Council Chairman Fred Stubbert, D-Ward 1.

“As of right now, all seven councilors are going to vote for the Colby Circle site,” Stubbert said early Monday afternoon.

The council voted Feb. 7 to build at the city-owned Head of Falls property off Front Street, following a recommendation by the Police Station Study Committee, City Manager Michael Roy, and the architect and construction manager hired by the city, Port City Architecture and Wright-Ryan Construction Inc.

But recent public opposition to the plan prompted Councilor George Myers Jr., D-Ward 2, to introduce a resolution asking the council to instead approve buying land at Colby Circle and nullify a vote taken earlier this year on Head of Falls.

“To ignore the almost uniform distaste for the Head of Falls site at this stage would be like poking the citizens of Waterville right in their eyes,” Myers said Monday. “We won’t do that. They spoke and we heard them.”

Myers said several councilors, “perhaps the majority,” now oppose Head of Falls.

Roy said Monday that changing the site will cost the city money and time already spent on the Head of Falls site.

“I think the question is, how much (money) — and I don’t have that answer yet,” Roy said.

While the building design for Head of Falls may be transferred to Colby Circle, the soil there must be tested and the land surveyed to determine where the station would be built, he said.

“There’s plenty of land at Colby Circle; how much land do we need to buy? That’s a question we haven’t figured out yet,” Roy said.

At a council meeting two weeks ago, former Mayor Thomas Nale voiced loud opposition to building at Head of Falls. Councilors will discuss buying the Colby Circle land from Hight Partners for $125,000, Stubbert said.

Stubbert and Councilor Erik Thomas, D-Ward 4, were the only councilors who voted Feb. 7 against building at Head of Falls, but Stubbert said Monday that councilors have now been convinced Colby Circle is a better choice for a police station.

City councilors have not discussed their change of heart in a public meeting.

Asked how that change came about, Stubbert said they did not all discuss it together. He said he realizes that if more than two councilors discuss city business without public notice it is a violation of Maine’s public meetings laws.

“Obviously if we have more than two councilors, we have to have a public meeting and we know that, so it’s been individual discussions,” Stubbert said.

The city estimates building at Head of Falls would be $3.2 million to $3.4 million, but those numbers are not final, Roy says.

Tonight’s vote comes more than a year after councilors voted in June 2011 to approve spending $2.5 million for a new police station.

If the council chooses Colby Circle, the police station would be built behind the Social Security Administration building and the entrance to the site would have to be the driveway that is used by both the Social Security Administration and Waterville District Court, Roy said. He said no other accesses to the site may be built because when the state re-designed the road it used federal money, which restricted the project to certain curb cuts.

Roy said he is pleased the council supports building a new police station. Police are now in a cramped and antiquated space in the basement of City Hall.

“That’s the most important thing to us — that there is support for that,” Roy said. “We’ll work with the council on whichever site they choose.”

Police Chief Joseph Massey echoed Roy’s sentiments Monday, saying the process for siting a police station has been long and at times frustrating. He said he understands councilors may choose a different site tonight.

“I’ll support that decision and we’ll move forward,” Massey said.

At the same time, Roy said he is concerned about the time frame for the project because officials want to start it in the best possible weather.

In another matter tonight, councilors will consider buying into 62 acres abutting Robert A. LaFleur Municipal Airport bought last week by Waterville Development Corp., according to Roy. The city would want to buy into the project because it would give the city the option of building a road from the property to Webb Road, the airport could be expanded and the city could develop the land, some of which abuts Interstate 95, for business, Roy said.

He said the Development Corp. bought the land from Union Front Corp., owned by John, Mark, Thomas and Richard Nale.

In another matter, councilors will consider a change in the city’s zoning ordinance that would allow residents to have up to six laying hens on their property. The City Council voted Jan. 5, 2010, to approve the zone change but then-Mayor Paul LePage, who now is governor, vetoed the decision three days later.

Councilors also will consider supporting a plan by Thomas College to build a solar array on the roof of the Harold Alfond Athletic Center. A critical component for financing the project is that the college receive support from the city.

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