WATERVILLE — City councilors voted 6-0 Tuesday to buy land at Colby Circle to build a police station.

The vote nullified a 5-2 vote they took in February to build a police station at Head of Falls.

As part of Tuesday’s vote, councilors placed conditions on the plan to buy land at the southern tip of Colby Circle. The property is owned by Hight Partners.

The conditions are:

  • That the price for the lot be $125,000.
  • That sharing the cost of road construction, ownership of the road and responsibility for maintenance, repairs and improvements to the road are resolved to the city’s satisfaction.
  • That the site is free and clear of environmental issues.
  • That subsurface conditions are acceptable for excavation and that any conditions that require larger than normal costs will be cause for refusal by the city.

The city most recently considered four possible sites for a police station, including Head of Falls, off Front Street, the American Legion parking lot on Front Street and two sites at Colby Circle.

An initial plan to build at Head of Falls was delayed when councilors decided to consider the Sentinel building for police. The council ultimately rejected that idea.

After choosing Head of Falls, public outcry prompted councilors to consider Colby Circle.

Councilor Karen Rancourt-Thomas, D-Ward 7, was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

Police Chief Joseph Massey said after the vote that the process for finding a site has been long and sometimes frustrating, not just for police but for everyone involved.

“I hope this vote continues to move forward and that we can see construction started at some point,” Massey said.

Colby Circle was one of the top choices of the Police Station Study Committee, with Head of Falls being the top choice, he said.

“But certainly Colby Circle is a workable site for us. Every site that we looked at had some issues to contend with but certainly issues that we can deal with.”

Massey said the building design developed for the Head of Falls site will be the same one that would be used for Colby Circle.

“They’re just going to pick it up and move it,” he said.

That plan calls for a 12,000-square-foot, one-story station with a sally port.

Before the vote, American Legion Post 5 Commander Gilman Pelletier said he was disappointed the council did not choose the Legion property on College Avenue for a police station.

But Councilor Erik Thomas, D-Ward 4, said the plan would not allow adequate parking for the American Legion. While a police station would have enough parking, the legion would not, he said.

“It would be out of conformance with the city’s codes,” Thomas said.

He also said the city is not allowed to plow on private property — that that is a liability issue with the city’s insurance company.

Buy Pelletier said  the only times people really park in the lot are on Friday and Saturday.

“It seems like you’ve already made up your mind,” he said. “I thought we could work together as a service organization and City Council.”

Pelletier said the Legion’s offer to sell the property is still on the table.

City Manager Roy said the city would not be able to build a new access road from Colby Circle to a new police station — that there is only one entrance, which is currently shared by Waterville District Court and the Social Security Administration building. The police station also would share that access road.

Roy said the city got a letter from the state Department of Transportation denying the city’s request to build another access.

But Roy said the city hopes to widen the existing access road and possibly install an island in that access that delineates entering and exiting traffic.

After the vote, Mayor Karen Heck thanked everyone involved in the police station effort.

“It’s good to know that we’re finally going to get a new police station and we appreciate all the work everyone’s been doing and the creative thinking,” she said.

Meanwhile, Roy said councilors will have to take a future vote to establish a budget for buying the land and building a police station.

 

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