AUGUSTA — Construction of the new, $20.5 million Augusta police station is expected to start Friday, across the street from the building that was the city’s police station for more than a century.

The site where construction on the new station is poised to start is across Willow Street from the old city hall building, which used to include the police department. Toward the end of its service as a police station 25 years ago, the building was home not just to the city’s police force but also a large population of pigeons and bats, and their feces, on the condemned top floor of the brick building. Officers, some so anxious to get out of that site they used their own pickup trucks to move their gear, then moved to a former Naval Reserve building on Union Street in 1998, in what, at the time, was deemed to be a temporary location.

Nearly another 25 years later, officers are again looking forward to moving, now out of the Union Street station that has a leaky roof, undrinkable water, rotting floors and inadequate heat.

“This is an amazing day for an amazing project. I think it’s fitting that as I deliver this speech, I’m looking across the street where we came from 25 years ago,” Police Chief Jared Mills said Thursday at a groundbreaking ceremony for the new station. About 100 people attended the event, including current and retired police officers as well as a handful of residents from the old city hall building, which has been repurposed as senior housing as The Inn at City Hall.

Mills was hired as a patrolman just as the department had moved to the Union Street site. A handful of retirees from the department who worked there when it was still at the old city hall, joined by the few current officers who also worked there, reminisced about the old days of the department.

Chief Jared Mills points to The Inn at City Hall, the former home of the Augusta Police Department, during a ceremonial groundbreaking event Thursday for the city’s new police station on Willow Street. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“For 100 years, police served the community from that old building,” said Christian Behr, the department’s historian, who now works as a detective for the Kennebec County District Attorney’s Office. “Now, 25 years later, and 100 feet across the street, police will be there, helping the public, again. I like that because of the historical significance. We’re almost right back where we started.”


Behr said the move to the new station will require adding a page to the department’s history. That history is expected to be featured in the new station, where a small museum-like display will showcase items and a writeup of the department’s past.

Work on the new station is expected to start Friday, with some utilities for the current building being disconnected. The current building will be demolished to make way for a new structure. Matt Nazar, the city’s development director who is project manager for the new station construction project, said construction is expected to start full-on Monday. He said the building is expected to be ready for occupancy in February of 2024.

Mayor Mark O’Brien, whose home abuts the site, said the groundbreaking was a historic event for the city, after many years of police working in a substandard building and on-again, off-again efforts to build a new station.

An architectural rendering depicts plans for a new Augusta Police Department building off Willow Street. Construction will begin in full on Monday. Rendering courtesy of Port City Architecture

“I remember speaking to Chief Mills about the need (for a new station), and he had me at leaking roof, rotten floors and undrinkable water,” O’Brien said, referring to some of the problems with the Union Street station. “The new station will be a public building of which our citizens can be proud, and a facility that our men and women in blue, who have been so very patient, deserve. This spot is a great location across from our municipal offices and very close to downtown, with easy access to both sides of the Kennebec River. It puts to a great public use a highly visible parcel that has been dormant and decaying for many years. In these times, and in some places, it may not be easy to be in law enforcement. But let this project be concrete evidence that the citizens of Augusta support our police, and have their backs.”

Voters approved borrowing $20.5 million to build the new station in June 2021.

The new station will be built at 7 Willow St., the vacant former location of a Hannaford supermarket.

Dirt flies Thursday as city officials dig in during a ceremonial groundbreaking event for a new Augusta police station on Willow Street. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

It will be a two-story, 25,000-square-foot new facility complete with solar panels on its roof, secure parking for police, two elevators, an evidence lab, interview rooms, a dispatch center, a drive-through sally port to bring people in custody into the building, a fitness area for employees, and a large, open public lobby.

William Bridgeo, former longtime city manager, who was just elected to represent Augusta in the state House of Representatives, said breaking ground for the new station is long overdue. He worked with Mills to initiate the process of finding a site and securing funding for the project over the last few years.

“Hats off to all the men and women of the police department for their tremendous patience,” Bridgeo said after the groundbreaking. “A lot of rigor went into the site selection and, in the end, I think that process worked. Because it seems like the ideal site for it.”

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