The polished surface of a ceremonial shovel reflects sunlight onto the face of Skowhegan Town Manager Christine Almand, second from right, during a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday in Skowhegan marking the construction of an $8.25 million public safety building. Shown from left are Selectmen Harold Bigelow and Todd Smith, Almand and police Chief David Bucknam. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

SKOWHEGAN — A ceremony was held Tuesday marking the start of construction on a long-planned, $8.25 million public safety building.

The groundbreaking event drew town officials along with police and fire personnel to the corner of Dunlop Lane and East Madison Road where it will be built.

“As we all know, it’s been a long time coming,” said Todd Smith, chair of the Board of Selectmen. “It’s the first day of summer and we get to do some groundbreaking on this new building. Everyone here has had a pretty important role in getting to where we’re at.”

Officials plan to move into the new building by next May. It will have separate entrances for each department and added security features and upgrades from the offices used now, including more space.

This rendering shows the Skowhegan public safety building that’s being constructed to house both the fire and police departments. Artist rendering courtesy of Haley Ward engineering firm

The police station currently is in the basement of the municipal building at 225 Water St., and the Fire Department is housed in a historic, confined brick building at 16 Island Ave. The land for the new structure is about a mile and a half from the existing buildings, and less than half a mile from the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office on East Madison Road.

“The big thing with us is our station being built in 1904,” fire Chief Shawn Howard said. “It’s hard to do work on the trucks, to open compartment doors … none of that can happen currently in our station.”


The new station will allow the Fire Department to keep all vehicles and other fire apparatus inside the building. The department currently stores a boat, an ATV and a pickup truck outside the station or in a separate accessory building, Howard said.

“Another big plus to this new building is that we’re going to have maneuverability around the station,” he said. “Everyone in town is pretty familiar with where we sit now. It’s pretty tough when there’s not a lot of room on the outside of the station to maneuver trucks. We’re blocking traffic every time we have to back a truck in and we won’t have to do that here.”

The new building also will have added security features such as electronic locks and more surveillance cameras. Early plans for the building called for a fence around the perimeter, but that expense is not covered under current construction plans.

Plans call for the Police Department to have a waiting area for the public that is separate from police offices, an amenity that does not exist in the basement of the municipal building.

“I am still working on securing grants right now to offset some of the cost on the town,” police Chief David Bucknam said.

He said he’s secured around $75,000 in grants to cover the purchase of lockers and desks.


“I am actively looking for a grant for a fence,” Bucknam said.

Residents last week OK’d a payment of $592,000 — the largest to date — on the new building.

Work on the site has been ongoing for weeks, though construction officially kicked off Tuesday. Town officials in January hired Westbrook-based Benchmark Construction to take on the project alongside engineering consultant Haley Ward, based in Bangor.

Skowhegan voters in 2020 approved an $8.9 million bond to build the new complex. In addition to the bond, town officials have a reserve account of $1.1 million that can be used toward the project.

Initial bids for construction were higher than what officials were expecting, but cost-cutting measures were made to the facade and layout of the building.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.