SKOWHEGAN — Town officials are scheduled to discuss for the first time Tuesday what’s next for a proposed combined public safety building for police and firefighters after the idea was shot down at the polls Nov. 6.

The meeting of selectmen and department heads is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in the council room at the Municipal Building on Water Street.

The session will be followed by a regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen at 5:30 p.m. and then at 7 p.m. by a six-article special town meeting, during which residents will be asked to approve borrowing $2.6 million for extensive upgrades to lighting, heating and ventilation systems at town-owned buildings.

The combined public safety building proposal failed in a referendum vote 1,893-1,322. The question asked voters if they wanted to authorize the Board of Selectmen to borrow an amount not to exceed $8.5 million to build and equip a new building on town-owned land on East Madison Road.

It was a disappointing defeat, officials said, but it did not negate the fact that the Fire Department remains housed in a 114-year-old building on Island Avenue and the Police Department is housed in the basement of the Municipal Building.

“The majority of complaints seemed to stem on location, so another look at feasible locations should be considered when the committee meets,” police Chief David Bucknam said after the vote. “I look forward to further meetings with the selectmen and the Public Safety Committee to see how we move forward.”

The regular meeting of selectmen will follow the public safety meeting and will include an executive session to discuss the town manager’s annual evaluation.

The first of the six questions to be voted on at the special town meeting at 7 p.m. will be about whether to approve borrowing up to $2,628,175 for energy reduction and capital improvement projects.

The town has about $13 million in outstanding and unpaid debt. The new measure, if approved Tuesday by voters, would bring the total indebtedness to about $15.7 million.

The Board of Selectmen recommends passage of the question, which Jeffrey Hewett, Skowhegan’s director of economic and community development, said would save the town money in energy costs over the coming years.

“That is the energy project that we’re looking at for the street lights in Skowhegan, the Municipal Building, the Rec Department, some at the pollution control plant and some at highway,” Hewett said. “All of the lights through all of the buildings are going to be LED, if they approve it. If they don’t approve it, then we don’t do any of it.”

Hewett said in the long run, most of the borrowed money will be recouped through the savings in energy costs by having updated equipment and improvements. Once it is all paid for, he said, future spending will be reduced.

Other improvements would include the ventilation system in the Municipal Building and in the Opera House upstairs to temper the air in the summer, and a heat recovery and distribution system for the main floor of the Municipal Building and for the basement.

That system also would provide air conditioning on the main floor and in the basement, replacing 25 window units. The plan also includes installing efficient gas furnaces to reduce heating costs. Hewett said about 600 street and decorative lights will be switched over to LED, which will cut costs in half.

In the other buildings, two heat inverters — heat pumps that can heat or cool — would be installed in the conference rooms at the community center for the Recreation Department. There also would be some soundproofing between the gymnasium and the conference rooms, and the ventilation system will be fixed, Hewett said.

The furnaces at the center also would be converted to gas furnaces, he said, to make them more efficient. Exterior doors also would be sealed to be weather-tight.

Heat pumps would be installed at the pollution control plant, along with an upgraded ventilation system.

The new systems in all four buildings would be set on a single control system, with timers to control heat and cool each building, Hewett said.

“It’s going to be moving these buildings forward into the future,” he said. “Hopefully, all the buildings will be much more comfortable for the public.”

In other voting at the special town meeting, residents will be asked to authorize selectmen to designate a municipal affordable-housing TIF, or tax increment financing district, at a building and property owned by Kennebec Valley Community Action Program off Norridgewock Road, west of downtown.

The $5.4 million project would be developed with 75 percent of the taxes going back to KVCAP in the TIF arrangement, as the program divests itself of its nonprofit status for that property. All other KVCAP property will remain nonprofit.

Voters also will be asked to accept a property agreement with the nonprofit Skills Inc. regarding property at 5 Greenwood Ave. in which the town will be reimbursed a percentage of the sale if Skills sells it to a for-profit company or individual. The town deeded the property to the organization years ago, Hewett said.

Residents also will be asked to have the town take over a parcel of land at the corner of Commercial Street and Madison Avenue from the Somerset Economic Development Corp. They also will be asked to allow the town treasurer, with selectmen’s approval, to file a waiver of automatic foreclosure at the Registry of Deeds on real estate “that may be burdensome” to the town. It allows selectmen not to foreclose if hardship is indicated.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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