AUGUSTA — City councilors meet Thursday to discuss plans for a new police station, including where the station should be located.

City officials have said the current police station, on Union Street, is outdated and in need of replacement. While officials said a new station could be built on a parking lot next to the current station, at the urging of residents and downtown advocates city officials are also considering other locations, including spots in or at least closer to the city’s downtown area.

Thursday councilors are scheduled to hear an update on plans for a new station including that a needs assessment of the department is being conducted. They’ll also discuss potential locations for a new department.

City Manager William Bridgeo said potential sites identified by city staff include the former, now vacant, YMCA site at the corner of Winthrop and State streets, the former Bates mill building, more recently known as the Apgar building at the corner of Water and Laurel streets, the former Hannaford Supermarket on Willow Street, and the lower level of the city-owned Augusta Civic Center parking lot.

Bridgeo said that list of potential sites was put together by city staff by looking at the size of the lot likely required for a new station, of at least 1.5 acres, and searching within areas of the city for a spot that might work. He said the city could contract with an appraisal firm to appraise roughly what it might cost to acquire the properties not already owned by the city, to determine how much cost that could add a police department replacement project.

If councilors decide whether to go forward with plans for a new station and choose a location, a proposal to fund the project could go to voters on the November ballot, Bridgeo said.

Bridgeo said a team of local officials visited the fairly new police station in Brunswick recently to tour it, because the department is similar in size and role to Augusta’s.

“We can sort of use that as a model, (touring Brunswick) gave us a rough sense of functionality and space needs,” Bridgeo said Tuesday.

Councilors and police have said a new station is needed, at an estimated cost of $8.55 million, because the current, 1940s building is outdated with problems including that the floors aren’t level, the bathrooms are disgusting, the roof leaks, the heating system is unable to keep up with winter’s cold, its water isn’t used for drinking because of lead pipes and the wiring is outdated.

Bridgeo said city staff, some of whom may have initially been leaning toward building on the existing site next to the current police station, are now largely neutral about location.

“I expect the council and community at large would probably be open to locating the department downtown somewhere,” he said. “I’d imagine costs would factor into that.”

Councilors will discuss plans for a new police station at their 6:30 p.m. meeting Thursday in council chambers at Augusta City Center. Councilors are also scheduled to further discuss a proposal for a plastic shopping bag ban.

 

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
[email protected]
Twitter: @kedwardskj


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