Holden police seek approval for station

Posted June 30, 2009, at 8:21 p.m.

HOLDEN, Maine — Plans for a new police station in town arrived on Monday, designed to replace a leased modular classroom the department has used for nearly three years, Public Safety Director Jim Ellis said Tuesday.

“This is a project that is way past due,” he said. “Our facility is an embarrassment for the community.”

While the rented space is an improvement over the 8-by-8-foot office police shared in the town hall basement three years ago, it is temporary space that is not designed for police use, Ellis said.

“Right now we have a very unsecure facility” that has no bathroom or plumbing, he said.

The plans for the new 60-by 32-foot police station, drawn up by local architect David Merritt, will be presented to the planning board next week, Town Manager John Butts said.

“Once they do their site plan review, we’ll go out to bid,” he said.

The new facility plans include three offices, an interview room, bathrooms, a small kitchen, a secretary-patrol room, a secure waiting room and a conference and training room that will be available for use by the public.

“It’s a pretty simple design,” town planner Stephen Condon said on Tuesday while going over the plans. “Basically, what we’re trying to do is mirror what we have here” at the town hall.

The new one-story building would have a basement for storage and be placed beside the town hall with a covered breezeway possibly connecting the two structures. Other construction options include insulating the basement and adding a cement wheelchair ramp at the front of the building, Condon said.

The Police Department’s modular building sits next to the town’s garage and costs approximately $750 a month to lease. Because the former classroom has no plumbing, officers now have to go to the town office or public works garage to use the restroom or get a drink of water.

Once town councilors open the construction bids, they can approve them, disapprove them or can present them to residents, Ellis said.

“I certainly hope it’s supported by the council and community,” he said. “I truly believe the community is supportive of public safety, but they are also frugal. We are trying to do this as economically as possible.”

For example, the new facility — if approved — will recycle the same furnishings now in use, Ellis said, adding, “This addresses the needs we have today.”

Construction costs for the proposed building are not known, Butts said. However, the town was considering plans in the $150,000 range back in December.

To pay for the new building, the town would have three choices, the town manager said. They could tap reserve funds, they could finance it or do a combination, Butts said. Currently, the general reserve account has $278,000 and the municipal reserve account has around $84,000, he said.

Residents have shot down two previous attempts by town leaders to build a new facility. Residents rejected a proposed $850,000 fire station in 2007 and a $1.8 million combined fire and police station in 2006.

“This is a smaller project to address the most immediate needs,” Ellis said. “This is certainly not a Taj Mahal. It’s a modest facility.”

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