GARDINER — By the end of the month, Gardiner city officials are expected to begin evaluating the city’s needs for space in coming years, with the help of firm hired to develop a facilities plan.

“These things take time,” City Manager Andrew Carlton said. “We have to take a hard look at where we are, where we want to go and, more importantly, where that’s going to be.”

At the same time, he said, that work will be balanced by the cost to taxpayers.

In March, city officials issued a request for proposals to  conduct a study of municipal facilities, as the first step in developing a plan to meet the needs of city departments and employees in coming years.

After seeing presentations from three firms, the City Council opted to hire Port City Architecture, which has worked with a number of communities on similar projects.

On Wednesday, the City Council formed a facility committee that is expected to work with Port City and report progress regularly back to the City Council.


“I am looking forward to understanding the city’s needs for facilities improvements based on the consultants work, committee input and community engagement,” Mayor Patricia Hart said.

The committee members are Hart; District 1 City Councilor Terry Berry; James Toman, Gardiner’s police chief; Rick Sieberg, Gardiner’s fire chief; Denise Brown, Gardiner’s finance manager; and community members Ingrid Stanchfield and Ken Holmes. Carlton is to serve as a nonvoting committee member.

Chief Rick Siebert of the Gardiner Fire Department talks Thursday about the department’s small workout room during a tour of the fire station. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Initially, city officials had planned on the facilities study being completed by October. Now, that timeline has changed.

“This isn’t going to happen in a month,” Carlton said.

In the coming days, building plans for City Hall, which also houses the Police and Fire departments, Building and Grounds and Public Works, are to be forwarded to Port City for review.

The existing municipal building is more than 50 years old and bears the design hallmarks of the era in which it was built.


The modern peaked roof line has wings on either end that cause ice and snow buildup every winter. The building’s interior features a modular design that allows for walls to be moved.

A lobby with doors leads to the police booking room and City Council meeting room at the Gardiner City Hall complex. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The modular design does not allow for confidential conversations or provide space for meetings if the City Council chamber, the building’s only conference room, is being used.

The current building also poses security challenges. Toman has said there is no separation between city residents entering the building for help and police officers bringing in those who have been arrested.

And while the city’s elected officials approved hiring four additional firefighters, they will occupy the same space being used by existing Fire Department staff. And as the city upgrades its firefighting vehicles and ambulances, those trucks are getting larger, yet the space to house them is not.

Carlton said Port City is expected to conduct a study to determine from where calls for service are originating to determine where the public safety departments should be located.

“We’re at a critical point because we’re growing to some degree,” Carlton said. “Public Works isn’t growing, but those guys deserve a decent place to work.”

City officials approved money in the current budget to pay for a restroom upgrade at the building on Old Brunswick Road. That work is expected to begin soon, he said, but the needs are broader than that for the metal building.

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