BANGOR, Maine — Maine State Police Troop E may soon be moving its operations from Orono to Bangor International Airport.
The city’s Airport Committee on Tuesday recommended approval of a lease that would allow the Maine Department of Public Safety to rent a pair of vacant buildings on airport property for 10 years, with the option for two 5-year renewals after the initial term. The lease would start at $111,300 for the two buildings, and rent would increase in 5-year increments until it reaches $129,750 in the 20th year of the lease.
The troop’s current barracks is on Main Street in Orono, but the building is about 60 years old and has outlived its usefulness, according to Lt. Wesley Hussey, commanding officer for the troop.
“We’ve outgrown this space. … It’s just too small and it’s got some age on it,” Hussey said of the Orono facility. Troop E covers Penobscot and Piscataquis counties and patrols the 107 miles of Interstate 95 from Newport to Sherman.
The Orono barracks, a building with about 3,300 square feet, is the base for 24 troopers, three sergeants, a team of 11 emergency dispatchers, a mechanic and a radio specialist, according to Hussey.
“This is something of a hub for the state police,” the lieutenant said.
The move to the airport would give Troop E about 9,000 square feet more space to work with. The two buildings included in the lease are the former Flight Service Station for the Federal Aviation Administration, Building 195, which would become the troop headquarters and dispatch center, and the nearby Building 92, a 4,000-square-foot storage building, which would be converted into a garage used to service and repair Maine Department of Public Safety vehicles.
Both buildings have been vacant since the mid-1990s, according to Airport Director Tony Caruso.
“We’ve been looking at this facility since probably about 2009,” Hussey said.
The former FAA building comes with a communications tower, which the Maine Department of Public Safety could upgrade to use as part of a statewide digital communications system called the Maine State Communications Network, or MSCommNet. The buildings also are close to Interstate 95.
The move also would allow the Major Crimes Unit, which currently is housed at Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center, to join the rest of the troop in one location, according to Hussey.
The two buildings need some renovations, according to Caruso. The airport would pay for about $400,000 in renovations, including projects such as removing and adding walls, installing carpets, painting, and installing bay doors and a boiler room in the garage. The cost would be built into the lease payments, Caruso said.
Hussey said the Governor’s Office already has approved the lease agreement for the new facility, and the move could be completed by May if the deal receives approval from city councilors.
The full Bangor City Council is expected to vote on the lease during its next regular meeting on Jan. 28.