HOLDEN, Maine — Even though residents have shot down two previous attempts by town leaders to build a new public safety building, work on another plan is under way because the space crunch has not disappeared.
In fact, it has grown worse with the addition of another full-time police officer earlier this year, hired to help protect residents 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“The council is considering a permanent building for the Police Department,” Public Safety Director Jim Ellis said Friday.
He added later, “In January, we went to 24-hour coverage at the request of residents,” which increased the number of police officers to three full-timers and nine part-timers.
The most recent plan under consideration is a $150,000 police station, which would replace a modular building put in place in December 2006 to provide law enforcement with working space and get them out of the town hall basement.
“The lease on the portable building runs out next year,” Ellis said, adding now is the appropriate time to consider upgrading to a permanent facility.
The Police Department’s modular building sits next to the town’s garage and costs approximately $750 a month to lease. While the rented space is an improvement over the 8-foot-by-8-foot office police shared in the town hall basement, it is temporary space that is not designed for police use and was not to be used permanently, Ellis said.
“It was originally designed as a classroom,” he said. “There is no bathroom, no plumbing.”
Officers have to go to the town office or public works garage to use the restroom or get a drink of water.
When officers have to interview someone, “it’s not the best situation,” Ellis said. “There is no secure area.”
If approved, the new facility “would be a stick-built building, similar in size [to the current modular] with a foundation,” he said.
Because the plans are in their infancy, details about exact size, designs and even where it would be located on the town office campus have not been determined.
Residents rejected a proposed $850,000 fire station building in 2007 and a $1.8 million combined fire and police station in 2006.
“The council is committed to providing a facility,” Ellis said. “We just need to get the right project.”