Hallowell firefighters and Pinnacle Tree Service workers remove the sign from the old Hallowell fire station on Second Street in June 2018. The sign was later hung over the truck bays at the new fire station at Stevens Commons. City officials are moving forward with plans to renovate the former fire station, with an eye toward having the police station move there. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

HALLOWELL — City officials are planning the next steps for two multimillion-dollar municipal projects, after Hallowell voters earlier this month approved the proposals in nonbinding referendums.

One of the projects is a new facility with multiple bays for the city’s Public Works Department. The other is the long-anticipated renovation of the city’s nearly 200-year-old former fire station into a new home for the Police Department.

Both referendums received twice as many “yes” votes as “no,” with the the fire station renovation question passing 1,106 to 423. The Public Works Department question, which asked if residents support want to buy the land on which to build a new facility for $2 million to $3 million, passed 1,073 to 441.

Renovation of the old fire station has been a topic of discussion since the Fire Department moved to Stevens Commons in 2018. Talks have focused on moving the Police Department to the building and keeping the food pantry in the basement. Early this year, the City Council voted to keep the building under city ownership.

City Manager Gary Lamb said last week that Hallowell is looking at grant opportunities to help fund the project, estimated to cost $4 million to $5 million, and officials might be able to tap into certain grants based on the building’s historic status.

“There are some historical tax credits,” Mayor George Lapointe said, “and we need somebody to be able to chase down what the grants are for and what the eligibility is.”


Lamb said the city’s next steps are for the council to decide whether it will allocate funding for architectural services. If the council opts to fund such services, the city would have a more accurate estimate of construction costs before going to residents with a bond vote.

Lamb said the project is not likely to be finished in the near future. For now, the city does not have an architect or the money to hire one, Lamb said, and a bond vote would not happen until June.

Although both referendums were nonbinding, meaning city officials are not obligated to take specific actions based on the results, Lamb and Lapointe said they plan to move forward with the projects based on voters’ overwhelming support.

City officials from Hallowell, Manchester and Farmingdale held a meeting last month to discuss working together and sharing resources, with public works being one of the major discussion points.

Discussion of a collaboration began after Farmingdale officials asked last year if Hallowell would consider plowing their roads, instead of Farmingdale’s continuing to contract with a private company for snow removal.

Manchester, which also borders Hallowell, has no public works staff and contracts all of its services.


While officials all seemed open to collaboration, different ideas were pitched, such as a scalable public works station or having the three communities pitch in to pay a private contractor to take care of the roads.

Lamb said Hallowell officials hope to have another meeting with the two towns, although a date had yet to be set.

Lapointe said officials might have a clearer idea on how to move forward with both projects following a workshop meeting in January.

He said much of the discussion at the meeting is expected to focus on funding sources and grant opportunities, so the city can minimize the amount it must raise through issuing bonds.

“I’m in no rush,” Lapointe said. “I’d rather do it right than do it fast.”

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