ENFIELD, Maine — In the old Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Enfield regional office, Allen Starr could just about squeeze his chair into the room he shared with other office workers.
But not by much.
“It was just tight,” the wildlife biologist said Friday. “With all the paperwork we were responsible for, the file cabinets were jammed in there one in front of another. There was just no room.”
DIF&W workers also had to go through an elaborate unpacking whenever they wanted to grab equipment from the tiny storage areas around the department’s Cobb Road facility, Starr said.
About 75 people, including several state representatives, attended a ribbon-cutting Friday and formally opened the $750,000 Enfield office at 73 Cobb Road. It is more than three times the size of the old building, state fisheries officials said.
The old building, DIF&W Commissioner Danny Martin said, was quite obviously inadequate.
“It became very clear that something had to be done to renovate or construct a new facility where all of our staff — game wardens, fisheries and wildlife biologists — could assemble and operate out of one building,” Martin said Friday.
It took four years of planning and design, plus special permission from the Legislature to transfer $500,000 from a department carrying account to use for building construction, to make the new building a reality, Martin said. Another $250,000 came from the state’s Bureau of General Services, officials said.
The $750,000 cost includes the purchase of the 1.6-acre lot the building sits on, and the project received a considerable boost from the state Department of Corrections’ community restitution program, DIF&W spokeswoman Deborah Turcotte said,
That allowed inmates to do finishing work on the building in exchange for reduced sentences.
More savings occurred when DIF&W officials used the blueprints from its new Jonesboro office to help build the structure and acted as their own contractor, Turcotte said.
The 6,688-square-foot building has been in use for six weeks. DIF&W officials share it with state game wardens. The office serves Penobscot and part of Washington counties.
Some work on the building remains to be done, Starr said. The second-story space needs some Sheetrock and other work before it can be used to expand the building another 3,344 square feet. Other areas of the building still need trim, and overhangs need to be built onto two entrances.
Still, Rep. Herbie Clark, D-Millinocket, thought the state’s money well spent.
“It’s a great improvement over what was here,” Clark said. “The older building was too overcrowded. They couldn’t even move in it. This is a great facility.”