SOUTHWEST HARBOR, Maine — Local officials are getting a little help from the federal government in renovating the first floor of the town office into a larger police station.
U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins announced Monday in a joint press release that the town will receive an $800,000 loan for the project from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program.
Robin Bennett, Southwest Harbor’s town manager, said Tuesday that the renovation project is expected to cost $700,000.
“That [loan] should cover all the costs of renovating downstairs,” Bennett said.
The town would have to pay the loan back over 30 years at an interest rate of 4.75 percent, she said. Those terms likely are better than any the town could get through a different financing source, she said.
Town officials have talked about giving the Police Department more space for several years but have brought renewed interest to the idea ever since the Fire Department moved to a new building farther north on Main Street at the end of 2006. Before the move, the fire and police departments shared space on the first floor of the town office, which is more than 100 years old.
Selectmen explored the idea of building a new police station at another site, including next to the new fire station, but local voters overwhelmingly rejected the idea last May.
The plan now is to expand the Police Department offices into the adjacent space formerly occupied by the Fire Department. Other possible town facilities, such as public restrooms and storage space for municipal records, are not being considered as part of the renovation.
According to Bennett, the town so far has drafted only a preliminary design for what the renovation would include. The town hopes to provide larger offices for the officers and department administrators as well as a locker room, a training-processing room, an evidence room and a garage bay for a police cruiser.
If voters approve the project at the annual town meeting in May, the renovation could be completed by fall, Bennett said.