WATERVILLE — City councilors on Tuesday voted 5-1 to spend up to $500,000 for site preparation, foundation work and installation of structural steel for a new police station on Colby Circle.

The lone dissenter was Councilor John O’Donnell, D-Ward 5, who questioned spending the money without knowing the cost of the entire police station construction project.

Councilors took the vote with an understanding that a guaranteed maximum price for the whole project would be presented at a special council meeting Oct. 30.

At that meeting, councilors will review bids from contractors.

Council Chairman Fred Stubbert Jr., D-Ward 1, recommended the $500,000 figure for the preliminary work.

“Hopefully, we’re going to start getting earth moved here in the next few weeks,” Stubbert said.

O’Donnell asked how the numbers came in for the three items the $500,000 would pay for — the site preparation, foundation work and structural steel.

Stubbert said the cost is about $50,000 more than the city had budgeted. He stressed that work needs to start soon at the site.

“Whatever we can get done prior to winter weather is going to save us some money,” he said.

Andy Highland of Port City Architecture, of Portland, showed councilors a drawing of the future police station.

The rectangular wooden building with a durable, maintenance-free brick facade is a little more than 12,000 square feet, Hyland said.

The architects tried to keep it as energy efficient as possible, using a dense pack insulation system, he said.

Some sacrifices were made, including no weight room or workout area and a smaller training room than originally planned, Hyland said.

Designers tried to make the construction as simple as possible, with a slab base. The rooftop will have energy units for cooling and heating.

“We’ve worked with the Police Department and with the administration to really come up with what we think is a nice looking, pleasant municipal building that is economical and should meet your needs for years to come,” Hyland said.

Weeks ago when the city was looking to build a police station at Head of Falls, officials estimated the cost would be $3.2 million to $3.4 million, but City Manager Michael Roy said at the time that the final cost would not be known until all of the contractors’ bids for work are received.

Councilors Tuesday also declared a vacancy in the Ward 2 council seat vacated by George Myers Jr., who resigned two weeks ago. The position will be advertised, and people interested should send written letters to the city clerk by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31.

Councilors also voted to protect the city-owned Pine Grove Cemetery chapel on Grove Street from further deterioration and try to find money for the work.

Stubbert estimated the work will cost $50,000.

“The buttresses have collapsed and need to be replaced,” he said.

Councilor Karen Rancourt-Thomas, D-Ward 7, said the building is beautiful inside and could be used for funerals or a museum.

“It is part of our community,” she said. “It’d be sad to see it crumble.”

Heather Merrow, co-chairman of the South End Neighborhood Association, agreed.

“We fully support restoring the chapel,” she said.

Councilor Eliza Mathias, D-Ward 6, noted that it is an historic building that should be preserved.

“I agree with you, Fred — it is a great asset to our community,” she said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

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