SKOWHEGAN — Residents of Skowhegan are being asked to complete a nine-question survey so town officials can gauge community sentiment on the possibility of building a public safety building.

The Police Department now shares the Municipal Building at 225 Water St. with the Town Office and opera house. The Fire Department is at 16 Island Ave.

The town’s only fire station was built in 1904. It is believed to be the oldest continuously operating firehouse in Maine.

The survey, available to residents until Tuesday, asks if:

• It is important to have each department located downtown.

• It is understood why new facilities are needed.

• The two should be placed at the same building or be separate projects.

• Construction cost or location is more important.

• Cost or location was the primary reason the 2018 proposal was rejected.

• The 2018 proposal should be considered again, if the least-expensive option.

The last question presents four options for a public safety building, and asks one be selected:

• Build a combined public safety building on East Madison Road. Total estimated cost: $8.9 million.

• Build a police station downtown and fire station on East Madison Road. Total estimated cost: $10.3 million.

• Build a police station downtown and fire station at 123 Madison Ave. Total estimated cost: $10.7 million.

• Build a combined public safety building at Memorial Field on Heselton Street. Total estimated cost, including the cost to build a new ball field:) $10.7 million.

In 2018, voters at the annual Town Meeting approved the purchase of property on East Madison Road, although opinions were mixed.

When a proposed $8.5 million bond was brought to voters, it was not approved. There has been much debate on the location, cost and resulting debt of a public safety building since the idea was hatched.

Town Manager Christine Almand said a survey conducted after that vote showed the community was concerned about the location and cost of the proposed project.

“We came together to come up with different locations and also to reduce the cost of construction,” Almand said. “Unfortunately, the longer time passes, the more construction costs increase. What we’re presenting now is four options and are hoping that (the community) can tell us what it is they want to see, and then present a bond option.”

The survey is available online through SurveyMonkey — www.surveymonkey.com/r/2VRRWTZ — and typically takes less than two minutes to complete.

“It has been made very clear that we need to get feedback from the community on where this should go,” Almand said, “so we’re trying to do that through a survey and hope that everybody fills it out.”

Fire Chief Shawn Howard and police Chief David Bucknam have said a combined public safety building would improve efficiency for both departments and save on heat, electricity and fuel.

In 2018, Howard said the fire station on Island Avenue was not structurally sound and should not be expected to house the Fire Department for much longer.

The town still owns the property on East Madison Road, and Almand said it remains an option for voters.

“It’s not like we’re sending the same thing back to voters. We’re certainly not doing that,” Almand said. “Two of the options include that as a possibility, but we’re not stuck on that property, and if the voters decide to put (the public safety building) somewhere else, then we will decide on what to do with that property.”


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