Brunswick council OKs meeting space cost overrun, continues search for new police station site

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BRUNSWICK — The Town Council Monday voted 8-1 to fund an additional $55,000 for meeting space at Maine Street Station, an expenditure double the project’s original estimate.

Meanwhile, a council subcommittee effectively ruled out renovating the town-owned building on Industry Road for a new $6.65 million police station. Town Manager Gary Brown said Tuesday that the town is still trying to sell the building, which currently houses Southern Maine Community College’s Advanced Technology Center, a feeder program for the region’s composites cluster.

In a Sept. 12 memo to the council, the subcommittee determined that the building would be too costly compared to new construction, and that the location would present logistical problems for the Police Department. 

The subcommittee estimated that renovating the building would exceed $5 million, while new construction would cost approximately $4.1 million. 

The building’s location on Industry Road was also a major concern, the subcommittee said. Industry Road is off of Water Street, a street that dead-ends near the Androscoggin River Bike and Pedestrian Path.

Industry Road ends close to Route 1 southbound, but Brown said the state Department of Transportation has been reluctant to grant access to the highway. 

The single access point was a concern for the Police Department and the subcommittee. The issue was also raised several years ago when the town purchased the building from the Times Record newspaper.  

Efforts to obtain property at Brunswick Naval Air Station through a no-cost conveyance were unsuccessful two years ago. Constructing a new police station has been a town priority ever since.

While eliminating Industry Road from contention would appear to be a setback, Brown told the council Monday that he expects to propose another site in October. He declined to elaborate on Tuesday, although the council on Monday held an executive session to discuss property acquisition.

The council approved an emergency appropriation for the meeting space it is leasing from Bowdoin College at Maine Street Station. The allocation brings the total cost for the five-year lease to $110,000, double the original project estimate.

Brown said the costs were driven higher by an additional $22,000 to pay the contractor to outfit the entire space. The increase, Brown said, is in part due to outfitting a larger space and a low estimate on the cost per square foot.

Also included in the overrun, Brown said, is the installation of fixed seating ($14,000) to meet an unforeseen state requirement to limit the number of people in the meeting room, and purchasing a wooden dais for the council ($8,500).

Brown said the seating and the dais would be available if the town decided to find other meeting space at the expiration of its five-year lease.

Originally the town planned to keep Cable TV 3 at Industry Road. But Brown said the town realized later in the summer that relocating the television station to Maine Street Station made more sense. 

On Monday, Councilor Karen Klatt opposed the additional allocation. Klatt also wondered why Brown ordered a wooden desk without the council’s approval. Brown said that he received approval from Chairwoman Hallie Daughtry and Vice Chairman Benet Pols. 

Pols confirmed that he and Daughtry OK’d the purchase.

The council also voted 9-0 to enact additional drug-free zones at town parks and recreational areas. The zones are similar to drug-free school zones, which increase the penalties for individuals convicted of dealing drugs in designated areas. 

Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or