June 23, 2018
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Bangor eyes future of former police station, while preventing Court Street collapse

By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The city will try to decide in coming months whether to overhaul or demolish the old Bangor police station — and how to accomplish that without causing Court Street to crumble into the Kenduskeag Stream.

The Court Street station was shuttered in 2006, after 76 years in service, when the new $8 million Summer Street station opened its doors.

“During the last six years, not many people have set foot in it, let alone maintained mechanical systems in the building,” Director of Public Services Art Morgan said Tuesday afternoon before presenting Sargent Corp.’s findings to the city’s infrastructure committee.

Sargent Corp. completed a structural study of the Court Street station in October. Sargent found the boarded-up building was “unsafe for public access,” and the only way to ensure its structural integrity would be to strip away the concrete to test and inspect the building’s steel framework and mechanical systems.

“This would be very expensive and likely find significant issues,” Morgan said.

Sargent offered three suggestions to the city: rehabilitate the building or pick from two possible demolition projects.

Rehabilitation would carry the highest cost. An overhaul to make the building safe and bring it up to code likely would cost somewhere in the range of $20 million to $30 million, according to Morgan.

On the more affordable side are two demolition projects, but removing the building presents a problem because the structure acts as a retaining wall for a portion of Court Street. Without the building or some form of other support, “probably Court Street would end up in the Kenduskeag Stream or in the parking lot below [the station],” Morgan said.

The first demolition option would involve removing the building and replacing it with a slope from the Court Street sidewalk down to the parking lot. That would cost around $1.2 million, according Sargent’s estimate.

The second demolition option would mean building a steeper slope to a 20-foot-tall retaining wall. That project would cost about $1.5 million, according to Morgan, but it has the added benefit of allowing for more than 30 parking spaces to be placed on a portion of the defunct building’s footprint.

Both projects would require shutting down Court Street so a natural gas main could be moved. Water, sewer and data lines could stay, but an 1870s-era brick sewer line could fail because of construction vibrations, Morgan said. Steel supports would also be installed to prevent Court Street from crumbling or sliding during construction, according to Morgan.

Concerns about the structural integrity of the old police station arose as early as 2001, when Caswell Engineering inspected the building and found significant deterioration in floor joists and structural framing. The concrete also was deteriorating with age and groundwater from Court Street was leaking through the walls.

Morgan said the city has not secured funding sources for any of the project ideas, but that the City Council and city officials would begin considering their options after Tuesday’s informational meeting with the infrastructure committee.

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