BRUNSWICK, Maine — For more than 50 years, Brunswick police officers have pulled their cruisers up to the current town hall — and the town hall before that — and descended into the subterranean station where, everytime it rains, the stairwell to the booking area floods.
Some senior officers have been hearing rumors of a new police station for 30 years, Lt. Tom Garrepy said Friday. He’s listened to the talk since he was hired 15 years ago.
But as officers patrol Pleasant Street these days, the rising steel on the corner of Pleasant and Stanwood streets is a sure sign that they’ll soon park those cruisers outside a new, $5.5 million station expected to be completed in September.
“It’s exciting seeing the steel being put up and seeing the framework,” Garrepy said.
Brunswick Police Chief Richard Rizzo can’t wait to be out of that basement for a number of reasons, perhaps most importantly the safety of his officers.
The new station will have sally port — a controlled entryway to the station, which Rizzo said will be much safer for officers and for the people they arrest.
Currently when someone is taken out of a police car, the officer walks the detainee down a flight of stairs and into the station, which Rizzo said “is very dangerous for the officer and for the person under arrest, even if they’re being cooperative. You can always trip down those stairs.”
Separate rooms for meeting with victims of crimes, who won’t have to come directly into the station, is another benefit, as are other rooms that will be used for other purposes.
“Right now, we have one room to do everything in,” Rizzo said. “People sit in there to use the phone, for the Good Morning [check-in] Program … now we’ll have separate rooms for separate things.”
“I think that one of the most important things is we’re going to have much more space,” Garrepy said Friday. “That will relieve a lot of the cramped conditions we’re experiencing now. As a department, we’ve outgrown the current work space.”
This week, as snow melted on the 1.75-acre property, the steel infrastructure towered over the site. Soon a crane will place a structural decking system atop the second floor, said Stephen Claffie, project supervisor for Ledgewood Construction of South Portland.
The week of March 25, when that decking is complete, the floor is scheduled to be poured, and then the roof trusses will go on.
Despite a few setbacks — weather and an early change in the recommended foundation thickness — Claffie said the project is “right where we need to be.”
“It’s going to be great for the town,” he said. “It’s a little bit about the police, but it’s really about the town. People see a modern police station, or at least a high-profile police station, and in the back of their mind, men and women feel a little safer.”