OAKLAND — The new police station on Fairfield Street has been planned, built and unveiled, but the committee behind it all doesn’t plan to dissolve now.

“This is the first time that the town started from scratch, trying to build something of significant magnitude,” said Mike Willey, chairman of the facilities committee that spearheaded the project.

The results were a vastly improved station for the Police Department, more than $50,000 in savings on the initial budget and positive reactions from Oakland residents.

The project’s success gives the committee confidence to go back to the town for future projects, he said, although those are probably a few years off.

“My goal is to ask the committee to remain together,” Town Manager Gary Bowman said. “We’ve set ourselves up financially that we can do another project and not affect the taxpayers.”

The committee originally received an estimate of $1.085 million for the project but chose to challenge itself by asking the town for a budget of $1.05 million, Willey said. The project came in under budget by $56,581, he said.

Willey said the committee had hired a project manager, Rick MacKenzie, to work with subcontractors and ensure the project stayed within or under the scope of the budget, which worked well.

Bowman said the town plans to use the savings to pay off a year of the loan for the project.

The facilities committee plans to look at the town’s other needs, starting with the fire station, which was built in 1955. Whether the project calls for a series of renovations or a new building will depend on what the committee finds in its research.

The fire station, located next to the new police station, has structural problems causing its floor to sink on the back end, Bowman said. The building also isn’t insulated, making it difficult and expensive to heat, and cracks are beginning to show on the outer walls where the building’s cement blocks are pulling apart. In addition, the firetruck bays are too small for new equipment, forcing the town to get its trucks tailored to fit into the outdated station.

Maine Municipal Association risk-management insurance staff members surveyed it, “and they were not real pleased,” Bowman said.

The committee will take its time to evaluate the department’s needs, Willey said, as it did with the Police Department. It may be two years before it brings anything to the town, because the members want to “have a very good reason for doing anything.”

A previous committee had proposed a single building that would house the fire and police departments along with the Town Office, but the price tag of $4.9 million didn’t appeal to residents, who voted against the proposal 1,165-841.

The town also has to work out the “bugs” of the new building. The committee had chosen Azek material for the roof because it’s maintenance-free and doesn’t require painting. However, because it’s a fiber-based material, it doesn’t expand and contract with the weather well, so parts of it are cracking, Bowman said. The roof itself isn’t damaged.

The building came with a one-year warranty, so after winter weather has passed, the town will look at possible solutions for the roof; but Bowman said he would prefer a maintenance-free option.

Overall, the building is laid out well and is working well for the Police Department, both Bowman and Willey said.

“We were in a farmhouse that had spiders coming out of the ceiling,” Bowman said.

The new meeting space the building provides, the Cascade Room, also has proved to be a large benefit to the town. The department already has hosted its first police chief’s meeting and several training sessions.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour


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