Council OKs borrowing $5.5M for Brunswick police station

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BRUNSWICK — The Town Council on Monday approved borrowing $5.5 million for a new police station.

The council rejected a proposal to send the project to referendum by a vote of 7-2, with Councilors John Perreault and Sarah Brayman in the minority, and unanimously supported floating bonds to pay for construction.

While many residents, and councilors, praised the work of the Police Station Building Committee, several residents said the process was flawed and not transparent enough.

“People feel that their voices are not heard and I think they have good reason,” resident Louise Rosen said. “This was a project with a predetermined outcome and everything I’ve heard and learned (said) it was intended to compensate certain people who had skin in the game on old plans.”

Former Town Councilor Karen Klatt, who has been a frequent opponent of the project, questioned the cost.

“As I have said many times, the Police Department deserves a better work place,” Klatt said. “I don’t question the current police station is inadequate, but we are now looking at a project that is going to cost over $7 million when you include the land. The council has to be held accountable for their irresponsible spending.”

Support for the project came from Police Department employees, and members of the general public.

Sonia Moeller, communications supervisor with the department, described some of the conditions officers and staff face at the current headquarters on Federal Street. She said she’s been told since she was hired, 25 years ago, that there would be a new building.

“For you, the citizens of Brunswick, you should want more for the employees than to have to work under those conditions,” she said. “It’s not the best conditions, we make it the best of what we have down there. You’re proud of your schools, you’re proud of your fire station. We really need to take a step back and be as proud of our police station as we are of all of those other buildings.”

After public comment ended, Council Chairwoman Joanne King and Town Manager Gary Brown addressed the concern raised by some citizens that the Police Station Building Committee did not do its due diligence in looking for a property, suggesting that Brunswick Landing would have been more appropriate than the intersection of Pleasant and Stanwood streets.

Brown said that the land the Police Station Building Commitee looked at on Brunswick Landing was not available when they needed it. Land that was expected to be available in August will not be available until 2014, he said.

Brown later added that “until the land is conveyed by the Navy to MRRA, estimates on when the conveyance will happen is only an estimate and the land that we were looking at 16 months ago is not available if we had chosen it.”

Even with residents calling for a referendum, councilors overwhelmingly supported the project being bonded.

Councilor Ben Tucker said that he would vote in support of the project so that if his daughter were to become a councilor, she wouldn’t have to vote on it.

“This town has needed a police station since before I was born,” he said. “We are now at a moment here in 2012 that we can really do this, we really can build a new police station. Everyone agrees it’s what we need. It’s a great location, it’s a great design, we’re going to be really proud of this building.”

Construction of the new police station could begin as early as October.

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