Gardiner Fire Chief Rick Seiberg waits for a rescue to back into the Gardiner Fire Station on Wednesday. City officials have initiated a plan to relocate the Fire and Police departments. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

GARDINER — Faced with limits on space and aging facilities, Gardiner officials are seeking proposals to complete a study of municipal facilities this year.

When it’s complete, they’re hoping to have a plan that will map out how to meet the needs of city departments and their employees for the decades to come.

For several years, city officials have been tackling problems at the municipal building on Church Street as they have arisen — fixing a crumbling wall and remediating mold in the truck bays of the Fire Department; reorganizing the configuration of Police Department offices to accommodate changing needs; and installing heat pumps in City Council chambers.

But those adjustments can’t make the building bigger or more secure, which are needs that city department heads say they have.

“It’s a unique building for sure,” said Anne Davis, the acting city manager.

Its 1960s-era design features a peaked roof line with wings on either side that anchor it in the decade when the building was built, but that design detail causes snow and ice to build up on the roof every winter.


And while the interior is modular in design, allowing for walls to be moved in the office areas, those spaces don’t allow for confidential conversations to take place or meeting space if the City Council chamber is being used.

Also included in the planned review is the Public Works garage, a decades-old metal building that’s not well insulated and whose sanitary facilities are outdated and insufficient.

“There’s no energy efficiency at all,” Davis said. “In the winter time, I have my windows open because it’s so hot in the office, and in the summer everyone has their own little air conditioner.”

Gardiner Police Chief James Toman exits a locker room at the Gardiner Police Station on Wednesday. City officials have initiated a plan to relocate the Fire and Police departments. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

The project includes developing an inventory and evaluation of existing municipal facilities with the exception of the Gardiner Public Library and the city’s wastewater treatment plant. City officials also want an analysis of the existing space, recommendations on the best location for the Public Safety Department, as well as required expansion and alternative use of existing spaces.

Among other things, city officials also want a cost estimate, based on spring 2022 building costs.

Among the concerns that Police Chief James Toman has is security for the building.


Now, anyone who is under arrest is brought through the same lobby that’s used for access to the City Council chamber.

“We have no ability to separate everyday common, courteous contact with a citizen who comes in for any reason, and us bringing prisoners into the PD,” Toman said, noting that booking procedures that end up at the Kennebec County jail often start at the police department. “There is no separation of us conducting criminal investigations or conducting arrest processes to just a citizen coming in to ask for directions or deposit (discarded) medications.”

The Police Department also has a shortage of space for staff, and for storage for evidence and records.

“We have done all the reconfiguring we can do and made the updates that we can,” he said, “but we are bulging at the seams.”

Gardiner Fire Department is facing the same issues that other departments across the region have — needing space to accommodate the increasing size of fire trucks. The size of the rescue trucks operated by the Gardiner Ambulance Service is also increasing, making parking them in the bays a tighter fit.

Unlike many of its neighboring fire departments, Gardiner has a full-time professional staff that works round-the-clock shifts.


“We don’t have space for lockers, or sleeping quarters, and the bathroom is tiny; it only has one shower,” Fire Chief Rick Sieberg said.

Sieberg has been working on a plan that would expand department staffing to meet the growing number of calls for service, both fire and ambulance, across the region. Adding staff to the space that was designed for half the staff the department currently has will be a challenge, he said.

An engine exits the Gardiner Fire Station on Wednesday. City officials have initiated a plan to relocate the Fire and Police departments. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

He said the fire department also needs additional space for storage, drying gear and space for training and meetings. Plans are now underway to remediate mold in the hose tower, which was not insulated when it was built.

Construction of the municipal building and the Public Works garage predates the kind of technology that’s now commonly in use.

Jerry Douglass, the public works director, said the metal building he and his workers occupy causes interference for both mobile phones and internet Wi-Fi.

Beyond technology, the building’s shortcomings include a lack of meeting space, a lack of insulation and heating efficiency and a lack of sanitary facilities among other things.


“We just got done doing a little bit of a facelift in the break room,” Douglass said. “They don’t really have an adequate breakroom.”

Douglass said his staff responds to sewer emergencies, and sometimes they need to shower and wash their clothes, and he’s pursuing funding to improve those facilities.

“The people that work in Public Works and keep the city infrastructure going and updated deserve a better place to work,” he said.

The deadline for proposals is April 29 and candidates will be interviewed in May.

City officials are targeting October for the facilities study to be completed.

After that, Davis said, city officials will have to decide what path they will take and craft and economic plan to pay for it.

“We have been able to fix issues, but issues will continue to crop up because the building is at the end of its useful life,” Davis said.

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