The new public safety building is shown on East Madison Road at Dunlap Lane in Skowhegan on Jan. 18. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel photo

SKOWHEGAN — The town’s new $8 million public safety building is on track to open later this month, after a series of delays put the project nearly a year behind schedule.

Selectmen, along with the town committee working on the building project, toured the 25,500-square-foot facility at the corner of East Madison Road and Dunlop Lane for a final walk-through Wednesday. The Board of Selectmen is expected to vote at its next meeting, set for Feb. 13, whether to accept the project as completed.

Pending the selectmen’s approval, the police and fire departments plan to move in the following week with the help of a commercial mover, officials said. Packing has already begun so that moving can be completed in a matter of days.

The new building, which officials said is a major improvement over the current police and fire departments, came in just under its $8.25 million budget, according to David Bucknam, Skowhegan’s police chief and interim town manager. Construction finished earlier this month.

But delays in the construction process pushed back the opening nearly a year from its original projected opening in May 2023.

Construction, originally planned to commence in April 2022, began later that spring due to weather-related issues, according to Todd Smith, chairman of the Board of Selectmen. Then, a series of minor setbacks during construction continued to drag the process on for months, officials said.


“Our dedicated crews have worked tirelessly, braving all weather conditions, to ensure that this project is finished as close to the target deadline as humanly possible,” Westbrook-based Benchmark Construction said in a recent social media post.

Town officials were generally pleased with the building at Wednesday’s walk-through, though they continue to find small flaws that need to be addressed, like paint touch-ups.

“As of right now, everything appears to be working properly,” Bucknam said. “We’re always going to find something.”

Others found larger problems. Standing inside the apparatus bay, Selectman Steven Govoni, who owns an architectural and engineering firm, pointed to a structural issue regarding the placement of a beam. Though the problem likely will not cause major issues immediately, it could lead to minor damage that will accumulate over time, long before the expected lifespan of the building, Govoni said.

“We need 75 years out of this building,” Govoni said.

Per the terms of the contract, the contractor is responsible for fixing anything within the agreed-upon plans at no extra cost, Smith said. The contract also includes a one-year warranty with similar terms for any problems that arise once the building opens.


Town officials said they hope to address as many remaining issues as possible in the coming weeks, so that the two public safety departments can fully take advantage of all the new building offers.

On the police side, the “pride and joy” is an evidence room that will help the department earn state accreditation, Bucknam said. Other upgrades over the current department in the basement of the municipal building at 225 Water St. include radio system improvements, more office space and a washing machine and dryer for contaminated uniforms.

On the fire side, improvements include individual sleeping quarters for firefighters, a larger bay for firetrucks and a state-of-the-art kitchen space.

Though many feel sentimental about leaving the current station at 16 Island Ave., which has housed the department since 1904, it was aging and presented some limitations, Fire Chief Ronnie Rodriguez said.

“Everything on the fire side is an improvement,” Rodriguez said. “We’re extremely grateful for this.”

Shared facilities between the two departments include a gym and a multi-purpose training room, which also could be used as a command center of sorts during emergencies, officials said.

Much of the furniture, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, was donated, Bucknam said.

In 2020, voters in Skowhegan chose the site of the new police and fire station in a ranked-choice vote of four options, following years of discussions.

To fund the project, the town raised $8.9 million in bonds, which was also approved by voters in the 2020 vote. The town also had a reserve account of $1.1 million set aside for the project.

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