BRUNSWICK, Maine — After several decades of waiting, the Brunswick Police Department will finally have a new home Oct. 1.
That’s when police will move out of the cramped, 6,000-square-foot Town Hall basement on Federal Street and into a new, 20,000-square-foot, two-story police station on the corner of Stanwood and Pleasant streets.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday night, Police Chief Richard Rizzo said the $5.5 million building will serve two important functions for the town.
“As a town building, its location at the Brunswick gateway basically welcomes visitors to Brunswick,” Rizzo told a crowd of more than 100 people outside the station. “And more importantly, as a police station, it projects a sense of safety and security to residents and visitors to Brunswick.”
But for police, dispatchers and others who use the station, it will also provide an opportunity to provide more privacy to victims, suspects and visitors.
At the old station, detective Sgt. Martin Rinaldi said, the cramped conditions couldn’t afford that same kind of privacy.
“I’d look across the office down where we were,” he said, “and I could see one detective interviewing a sexual assault victim and another person across the room interviewing someone about a theft, and that, to me, was problematic. So I’d have to say, ‘hang on, we have to find a private place, which is always difficult.'”
Now police will have two interview rooms, connected by an observation room with one-way windows, and three work rooms, which can be reserved for victims who seek help from third-party crisis services.
Deputy Chief Marc Hagan said the larger space means other agencies, like Maine State Police and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, will be able to use the space more often if they’re investigating local cases.
For Richard Mears, who served as deputy chief from 1984 to 1996, a new police station has been a long time coming. He said he remembers serving on a police station building committee in 1977.
Mears said multiple attempts were made by the town and police to get a new building over the past several decades, but it never gained traction with the public.
“We were crowded back then,” Mears said. “[With] all the work we needed to get done, we needed to have more room.”
Standing next to Mears, former Chief Jerry Hinton, who served from 1993 to 2008, said the space issue could become a big problem at a moment’s notice.
“We only had two cells, so if you arrested three of four people, you handcuffed them to rings on the wall [in the main hallway],” Hinton said. “They’re still there today because if they arrested three or four people tonight, they would have to still do that.”
Hagan said one of the new station’s more notable features is a sally port in the back of the building that will allow police to park a cruiser inside and take suspects directly to the holding room.
In the old station, police would have to park in the back of Town Hall and bring suspects down a set of outdoor stairs, which could be dangerous if weather created slippery conditions, the deputy chief said.
Rizzo said the completion of the new police station wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the Town Council, Brunswick Development Corp., the town’s police station Building Committee, Donham & Sweeney Architects and Ledgewood Construction.
The Town Council debated the location and cost of the new station for several years before choosing the Pleasant-Stanwood site in early 2011. A $5.5 million construction bond was approved in April 2012.
The new station was originally expected to cost the town about $7.2 million, but the Town Council rejected the figure a month before passing the $5.5 million bond and asking Donham & Sweeney Architects to draft a less-costly design.
BDC purchased the Pleasant-Stanwood site in May 2011 on the town’s behalf. The Town Council agreed to swap Town Hall at 28 Federal St. in exchange for the Pleasant-Stanwood property last fall.
The development corporation is expected to sell the Town Hall, along with the town’s Recreation Center at 30 Federal St., to Wiscasset-based Coastal Enterprises by April 2014.