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Pair of sites competing for new Brunswick police station

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Pair of sites competing for new Brunswick police station

BRUNSWICK — The location for a new police station could be determined by the town's long-term development vision and not just by price.

The Town Council has been negotiating privately with property owners at two locations. The council has already earmarked $6.65 million for the project in its Capital Improvement Program for fiscal 2012.

According to Town Manager Gary Brown, the council is considering both sites evenly – a slight, but significant, change from a recent announcement that the town had a preferred location, and an indication that the price gap between the two alternatives has narrowed.

"We're continuing to work with property owners at both locations," Brown said, adding that he expects to reveal the sites when the council meets in August.

One of the properties, the southeast corner of Pleasant and Stanwood streets, has already been identified.

The second, described in June as the council's preferred site, has not yet been confirmed by town officials. However, indications point to the corner of Union and Weymouth, where the Brunswick Development Corp. purchased property last year for $215,000.

At the time, town officials described the Weymouth Street purchase as a potential extension for Maine Street Station, specifically for additional parking.

But the Weymouth Street property's proximity to Maine Street Station also makes it a logical consideration for a police station. The joint development project, funded by nearly $5 million in town-committed funds, already has a strong municipal presence: the town leases meeting space at Maine Street Station, and it's the master tenant for the train station visitor's center.

Additionally, the Weymouth Street location would appeal to the Police Department's previously expressed desire to remain downtown. On two separate occasions, the department has reacted coolly to a proposed station on Industry Road because of its low visibility and access issues.

Visibility and access would be maximized at the Stanwood-Pleasant intersection, a downtown gateway with direct connections to high patrol areas on outer Pleasant Street and Route 1.

The intersection has also been previously targeted for development, including a controversial proposal for a Walgreens store, and a fire station. Although the Walgreens proposal sharply divided the council, many councilors agreed that the blighted intersection could mitigate some of the area's traffic problems and increase the adjacent neighborhood's downtown connection.

The intersection is also a focus of a $1 million traffic feasibility study conducted by the Maine Department of Transportation in planning for the 2011 closure of Brunswick Naval Air Station.

Brown declined to comment on the pros and cons of either potential site, saying only that the public discussion would occur later this month.

Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or smistler@theforecaster.net