Brunswick officials reject $7M design for police station

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BRUNSWICK — Town officials suffered sticker shock on Tuesday when they saw the draft budget for a new police station.

At $7.2 million, the estimate was nearly 30 percent higher than the $5.1 million budgeted in this year’s capital improvement plan, which the Town Council approved last summer.

At Tuesday’s Police Station Building Committee meeting, Town Manager Gary Brown was quick to say the cost would come down.

“We are confident we can still come forward with a modern police facility for the town of Brunswick and we can do it with the number I believe most people are going to find acceptable,” Brown said.

In order to do that, architects from Donham & Sweeney, the firm the committee selected, will likely shrink the building and the parking lot, eliminate the carport and boat bays, and do away with several of the features some committee members were looking forward to, including a tower above the building’s entrance and detailed brick work.

That caused concern for Councilor Sarah Brayman, who said the building’s appearance is important, given its prominent location in town.

“So many of these pieces were pieces that might be decorative, but this is a gateway structure and we need to keep that in mind,” Brayman said.

Architect Brett Donham said he would need about three weeks to redesign the building to fit the town’s budget.

“It’s going to look very different than what we designed before,” Donham said. “But this time we’ll have a very concrete goal because of the detail and the cost estimate.”

But, as council Chairwoman Joanne King pointed out, the town’s $5.1 million budget for the project was not new information.

“It seemed to me we always had that number out there,” King told Donham. “But maybe we weren’t conscious of it because we were trying to ascertain what the needs of the Police Department are.”

After the meeting, Donham said the price crept up because of the type of station committee members envisioned.

“The committee really had an image in their mind that this is a really important gateway building,” he said.

King agreed that the excitement about designing a beautiful police station could have pushed the price up, but she wished the professionals had kept closer tabs on the cost of the features sought by the building committee.

“I would have appreciated not being so shocked because I felt foolish,” she said in an interview Wednesday.

Donham also said it was unclear what the $5.1 million budget included, and said that amount may have been an old estimate that needed to be adjusted for inflation.

He pledged to come up with a building that fits within the town’s budget.

“I’m totally confident we’ll have a police station you’ll be proud of,” Donham said. “It’s just going to be different than this dream we painted.”

Emily Guerin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or eguerin@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @guerinemily.

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