Brunswick may borrow $5.5M for police station

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BRUNSWICK — Town councilors unanimously approved the latest proposal for a new police station on Monday night and set a public hearing for July 9 to discuss bonding for the project.

The latest, $5.6 million proposal includes the addition of an external sallyport and an upgrade to the heating system, which makes the building more efficient.

Councilors praised the Police Station Building Committee for it’s ability to work together and overcome disagreements.

“The oversight in this project has been tremendous,” council Chairwoman Joanne King, who is also a member of the committee, said. “I don’t think there has been any other capital project in this town that has had this much due diligence.”

Councilor Sarah Brayman said that, as a citizen, she originally objected to the idea of having a new police station, but after seeing the conditions the officers deal with, she thinks a new building is necessary.

“This committee has worked very hard. We have disagreed and we’ve made compromises and we’ve had different ideas about what’s important, but I think that this has been a very good process that has come out with a very good product,” Brayman said.

John Donovan, a citizen representative on the committee, said that asking the police to operate out of the current building is like asking a carpenter to try to build a house while taking away his hammer and saw.

“What we are doing with this proposal is giving our police staff the headquarters and physical plan to do their job more effectively than they do now,” Donovan said.

At the July 9 public hearing the town will propose borrowing $5.5 million. The balance would come from the $400,000 the town appropriated in its 2012-2013 fiscal budget for “other road projects.”

Town Manager Gary Brown said he also anticipates the committee coming back to the town for a supplemental appropriation of around $100,000 for office furniture and a new phone system. The exact amount of that appropriation will not be known until after the project is completed, Brown said.

Councilors on Monday also tackled the topic of statewide cuts to General Assistance budgets and what that means for recipients of general assistance in Brunswick.

The change in the town’s General Assistance level reflects a statewide 10 percent reduction in the maximum allotment.

Brown said around 70 percent of the people in town who take advantage of General Assistance do not receive the monthly maximums.

“The change won’t be significant to us in any way,” he said.

Brayman said that she is glad to hear that the maximum amount is not always used by the majority of recipients, but that she still fears for the other 30 percent.

“It does strike me that if somebody is in dire need that they can receive the maximum amount of General Assistance available, to cut that back by 10 percent could have an incredible impact on somebody,” she said. “Can we maintain these levels of assistance as they are now, rather than rolling back? Can we supplement so that the town can provide for the town’s people rather than going along with the measures being passed down by the state?”

Brown responded by saying the General Assistance office has the discretion to make determinations for additional assistance in emergency situations, such as power being cut off, evictions or lack of food.

Councilors approved the measure by a vote of 6-3, with Councilors Ben Tucker, Benet Pols and Brayman opposed.

Tucker said he believes the town does a great job taking care of its citizens and his vote against the measure was meant to be a stand against the state.

“I think it’s appalling that the state wants to cut General Assistance,” he said.

Other business

In other business:

• The council heard a presentation from Councilor Margo Knight about the work of the Downtown Outer Pleasant Street Master Plan Committee. Knight reported that the committee has developed a 10-year master plan that includes more than 100  recommendations for the downtown district.

The bulk of the presentation focused on future changes to Maine Street, including a bicycle lane and raised crosswalks, a proposal unanimously supported by the Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee.

• Councilor Benet Pols presented a proposed ordinance change regarding dangerous and unfit buildings that the Council will revisit at a later time.

• The council also unanimously approved special amusement licenses for The Raven’s Roost, the Brunswick Inn and Hacienda Pancho Villa Mexican Restaurant, and a licence for Frosty’s Donut Shop to operate outdoor seating.

Amber Cronin can be reached at [email protected] or 781-3661 ext. 125. Follow her on Twitter: @croninamber.