The Machias Police Department got a new chief at the end of last year, and now is on its way to getting a new police station.
When he started as chief in late December, Todd Hand said that one of the first things that grabbed his attention was the department’s current station on McDonald Drive, which he said lacks adequate space and security.
He approached the town’s manager and select board about moving the department to a larger, vacant space in a town-owned office building on Stackpole Road, and they have agreed to do it. The 9,300-square foot building, known locally as the tele-business center, was built by the town in 1999 with grant money as a part of a job creation initiative.
“We just need some security measures put in place,” Hand said earlier this month.
Work has begun on renovating part of the first floor of the building, which has tenants such as the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles, according to Christina Therrien, the Machias town manager. Over the years, the town has used rent payments from the property for maintaining the building and any leftover rent revenue to help fund the annual town budget, she said.
The cost of upgrading the space, which will include minor changes to the interior layout, is expected to be around $15,000, Therrien said Tuesday. The town has enough money left over from a building improvement loan it took out a couple of years ago for the property to pay for the improvements, so no additional funds need to be raised for the project, she said.
“This is not a new cost to the taxpayer,” she said.
In addition to installing new doors and coded locks at the station, an interior foyer where a dispatcher or clerical assistant can sit behind a glass window and greet visitors as they come in will be built. A new phone system will be put in and, with some changes to the interior space, the air exchange system likely will need some modifications to make sure it is suitable for the new layout, Therrien said.
The town hopes work can be finished in the next month or so, she said.
In addition to getting a better workspace for his department, Hand also has been hoping to hire part-time clerical help, and some more full-time officers, including one who would work with the school department and University of Maine at Machias as a school resource officer.
Therrien said Tuesday that the town is looking to fill one existing full-time officer position but because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Machias officials are waiting to see how town revenues might be affected before they decide whether to create any new positions within the department.