May 23, 2019
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Orrington could have a smaller police and fire building to vote on this June

Residents of Orrington may have a reworked proposal for a new public safety building to vote on at their June 3 town meeting.

Selectmen on Monday voted unanimously to hire a contractor, JM Brown Construction of Hampden, and authorized spending up to $10,000 for preliminary designs.

The cost of construction isn’t yet determined, but the town’s public safety building advisory committee has laid out plans for a combined police and fire building that would be about 3,000 square feet smaller than the proposed $3.5 million building voters rejected at a December town meeting. That building proposal was the source of major controversy in town and prompted town officials to appoint the advisory committee to develop cheaper building options.

The committee met earlier this month with four of eight companies that submitted preliminary bids on the project, committee Chairman Dick Campbell told selectmen at their meeting Monday. After those interviews, the committee unanimously recommended JM Brown, Campbell said.

“JM Brown had more experience than the others with the design/build concept the committee decided was the best option,” said committee member Jim Ring, a former director of public works and city engineer in Bangor.

The firm is expected to provide a cost estimate below the $3.5 million price tag for the public safety building that voters rejected in a 255-234 vote at a special town meeting in December.

Selectmen had originally hoped to hold a second special town meeting this month, but other controversies in town — including the resignation of the interim town manager, the hiring of a new town manager, a scuttled effort to recall two selectmen and the resignation of the police chief — and the advisory committee’s desire to act deliberately delayed action on the public safety building.

The biggest differences between the original design and the revised plan are the square footage and exterior look of the proposed building, according to Campbell.

The revised plan calls for a building of about 10,000 square feet, down from the original plan for nearly 13,000 square feet, he said. The police department side of the building shrank from four bays to two and an evidence room was eliminated because evidence must be kept at the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office, Campbell said.

In the new proposal, the exterior of the building looks less like a municipal building and more like a farmhouse with an attached barn.

Campbell said the building also would sit at a slightly different angle on the lot on the corner of Center and Tupper drives to reduce the impact on neighbors.

The cost of a new public safety building would not impact the tax rate. A municipal building reserve account, the town’s tax increment financing account and an undesignated fund balance would cover the cost, town officials have said.



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