July 18, 2019
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Orrington to decide Monday on $2.85 million redesigned public safety building

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Survey markers are visible near the intersection of Center and Tupper drives in Orrington. This is the site of a proposed new public safety building in the town.

Orrington voters on Monday will decide whether to build a 10,650-square-foot public safety building at a cost not to exceed $2.85 million at the corner of Tupper and Center drives.

Seven months ago, residents rejected a similar plan estimated to cost $3.5 million by a vote of 255-234 at a special town meeting. This time, voters will cast secret ballots as they did recently in an election for school board and the selectmen’s board.

If approved, work would begin in late August or early September. The building is estimated to be completed next year.

The difference between that plan and the revised one is the $2.85 million cost includes money already spent for designs and preliminary site work, the cost of construction and everything that will go inside the new building from appliances to desks to beds, according to state Rep. Dick Campbell of Orrington, who chaired the committee that recommended the plan.

Committee members originally had hoped to get the cost down to between $2 million and $2.5 million but were not able to do that and meet the required safety standards for a public safety building. Some in the community had voiced concern that the original proposal could not have been built for $3.5 million and would have cost significantly more.

On Wednesday, 22 people, including six firefighters, turned out for an informational meeting at the Center Drive School. No one spoke against the proposal, and several people, including Erik and Amy Michaud, whose property abuts the land where the new building would be located, said they wholeheartedly supported it.

“We have so much more information than we had the last time,” Erik Michaud said Monday. “Last time, all we had was a picture.”

That’s because selectmen approved a design/build approach the second time around rather than having just a concept design in which the details had not been spelled out, Campbell said. The committee’s meetings have been live streamed on social media, and detailed minutes of every meeting have been posted online. A Powerpoint presentation on the proposal was part of Wednesday’s informational meeting.

The current proposal includes and 8-foot high, 140-foot long fence along the Michaud’s property line as a buffer.

“We are very thankful for this,” Amy Michaud said. “They worked really hard at this, and they listened to us.”

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 10,650 square feet, down from the original plan for nearly 13,000 square feet, he said. The police department side of the building shrank to 1,600 square feet, which includes an office and a bathroom, after the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office eliminated a community policing program in which the town employed officers.

In the new proposal, the exterior of the building looks less like a municipal building and more like a farmhouse with an attached barn, where there would be three fire truck bays.

The cost also includes emergency water storage, emergency generators, a training room, a day room, bedrooms for overnight sleeping, a kitchen, offices, a locker room, a laundry room, loft storage, a fitness room and a metal roof.

The building is designed to last 50 years but could be expanded if the town grows significantly or residents decide to fund their own police force.

Committee member Jim Ring, a former director of public works and city engineer in Bangor, said the per-square foot cost of the two buildings was very similar.

“We’ve come up with what we really needed, and we’ve got a nice project here,” he said. “I hope the town thinks so, too. I feel much more confident with this plan than I did the last time around.”

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.

A second informational meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Center Drive School. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday at the Town Hall. Firefighters will hold a cookout between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday at the site proposed for the new building.



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