This building at 73 Winthrop St. in Augusta is the newest addition to Kennebec County’s portfolio of properties on the street. The structure, purchased with American Rescue Plan Act funds, is expected to house the Sheriff’s Department administrative offices. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file

AUGUSTA — The Planning Board has unanimously approved a proposal to move the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office patrol deputies, detectives, administrators and more from their current cramped quarters at Hill House to a Winthrop Street building.

The move from the sheriff’s office’s longtime home on the lower floors of Hill House at 125 State St. to an office building the county purchased at 73 Winthrop St. is expected to nearly double the law enforcement agency’s workspace. It allow employees there to move out of Hill House where, in some areas, the roof leaks and there are air quality problems, according to Sheriff Ken Mason.

“The building is very old and has leaked for a very long time; the air quality and mold is not good for humans,” Mason told Planning Board members Tuesday night. “I’m here to do whatever you tell us to do, to get into that building, to really give us some fresh air to breathe.”

Board members asked whether there is enough parking at the building, and expressed concerns about whether suspects or informants might be interviewed there, and whether neighbors should expect to hear sirens as deputies come and go from the spot at the corner of Winthrop and Elm streets.

Board member Peter Pare said he’s heard from some neighborhood residents worried that deputies could park on the street and encroach on their residential neighborhood.

Mason said while patrol deputies, who spend most of their time patrolling the county, will need to come to the building to do paperwork, the agency’s reserve vehicles, equipment, and trailers will remain in the parking lot at Hill House a short distance away. An interview room, used by officers questioning suspects, victims, informants and others, will remain at Hill House for that use, as no room currently at the Winthrop Street site is setup to be an interview room. He said no inmates will be housed at the Winthrop Street site.


Dan Brunelle, maintenance supervisor for the county, said there are 13 marked parking spaces at 73 Winthrop St. He noted the county also owns the building and parking lot across Elm Street from the site at 77 Winthrop St., which is home to the Registry of Deeds. He said sheriff’s office workers will thus be able to use the parking lot at 77 Winthrop St. as overflow parking.

Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason speaks during a meeting of the Kennebec County Commission on Feb. 13, 2019. Jessica Lowell/Kennebec Journal file

Mason said whether deputies will use sirens when they depart their new headquarters depends on the nature of the call, but said on routine calls he would ask his staff to refrain from using their sirens as they leave the site.

“I can tell my staff, ‘Please honor the request of residents who live there, and, you know, stay off the noisemaker until you hit State Street,'” Mason said.

No one spoke in opposition to the proposal and board members approved it unanimously.

“I think it’s a great use of an existing building,” Chairwoman Alison Nichols said. “I think it’s a good idea.”

Last month the Kennebec County commissioners completed the deal for 73 Winthrop St., which has been the headquarters of the Maine Primary Care Association for 21 years. The county’s allotment of American Rescue Plan Act funds will be used for the $435,000 purchase.


County Administrator Scott Ferguson has said officials considered how the building would be paid for, including using money set aside for capital reserves. But instead they determined that it could be paid for by federal American Rescue Plan funds.

The Kennebec County jail administrative offices will remain at the jail on State Street.

Ferguson said the Winthrop Street building is in good shape but some work will be required, including connecting the building to the county’s fiber network and installing bulletproof glass for the foyer.

Board members, in an unrelated proposal, also unanimously approved the construction of four, 5,000-square-foot self-storage buildings between 852 and 876 Civic Center Drive, on property owned by Bob Philbrick, which will be next to a solar farm built recently at 842 Civic Center Drive.

Kelly Perry, a neighborhood resident for 42 years, said Philbrick has been a good neighbor but expressed concerns that the area has become a less pleasant place to live due to commercial development and, from across the street, the frequent sound of gunshots from the Capitol City Rifle and Pistol Club.

“There still is a neighborhood there; I think sometimes we forget that,” Perry said. “Not because of Bob, but I feel very pushed out of my home.”

Board members also unanimously approved a conditional use permit to allow Derek Allee to open Ante Up Redemption, a new bottles and cans redemption center at 801 Eastern Ave.

Allee, who said he mistakenly already opened the business without going to the board because he didn’t know he needed its approval, said he wants to continue using the site to serve the community as a much-needed redemption center, in the wake of other redemption businesses in Augusta closing.

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