YORK, Maine – With smiles all around, the Board of Selectmen Monday night approved the contract to construct a new police station, with work to begin as early as next week.

The board hired Benchmark Construction of Westbrook, Maine at a contracted price of $1.754 million to transform the former American Legion Post into the town’s next police station. Additionally, they approved a contingency of $200,000.

“It’s taken the town 365 years to get to this point,” said Selectman Todd Frederick, saying that his review of town records indicates the town has never built a separate facility for the police.

The selectmen wanted to clarify a number of issues with building committee chairman Wayne Martin and Police Chief Douglas Bracy, mostly having to do with how the funds for the station will be spent and how often the two will come before the board for construction updates.

There is $2.6 million budgeted for the facility, leaving at face value a difference of more than 900,000. However, the “bare bones” contract did not include a contingency that will allow for construction item upgrades that Martin said would add value to the building itself. These include a generator upgrade, tile instead of sheetrock in the bathrooms, replacing a portion of the roof instead of patching it as outlined in the bid, installing light-emitting diode (LED) lights and replacing more asphalt curbing.

In a building committee meeting last week, Martin said the goal is to make the station as maintenance free as possible. “We should be thinking about if it’s going to lower long-term costs,” said committee Chairman Wayne Martin. “Spend money now for low maintenance over the life of the life of the project.” While the building does not have to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified, “I think we should look at things that meet LEED principals,” he added.

The contract also did not include equipment and furnishings Bracy said would need to be covered by the town in any event. Now, instead of coming out of future town budgets, the costs can be expended with construction funding, he said. These include equipment such as lockers, evidence archive system, holding cell equipment, a radio system including a new tower, office furniture, and gym equipment.

He told selectmen Monday that his first blush estimate of these costs is $300,000.

He said he would come back to the board once he had firmer prices.

In response to a question by Selectman Jon Speers, Bracy said to be “fiscally responsible” the town would get a better price by bidding out the items, as opposed to adding them to the contract.

“With all of this, will it still be under budget?” asked Speers.

“Undoubtedly,” said Bracy.

Martin said, “We may not even need all the contingency,” because the contractor is dealing with an already existing building. He said there could be surprises when the foundation for the sally port – an addition to the building – is dug. “But probably not.”

Speers asked if there would be funding for solar panels. “It’s a possibility,” said Martin, saying the committee will investigate the costs.

Martin said the committee will manage the upgrades, and does not expect to seek approval from selectmen for each change work order. “As long as we stay under budget, we would be giving you periodic updates,” he said.

Depending on the amount of money still available after needed work and purchases are taken into consideration, the committee would also like to investigate the costs of building a storage shed for the department, Martin said.

The committee has to now secure a construction permit from the state fire marshal’s office and a building permit from the town. If all goes as planned, work could begin by mid-August. The contract stipulates all work must be “substantially completed” by the end of February, and Aleva said Benchmark believes it can wrap up work before then.

Later in the citizen’s forum, resident and former selectman Ted Little expressed his appreciation that the project is finally getting off the ground.

“To quote from an old ad, what a relief it is,” he said. To Bracy and Martin, he said, “I can’t thank you enough for being in sync to get something forward to the town. Mary Andrews was wrong. The chief is getting something better than an outhouse! I can’t wait to see it to fruition.”