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Changes on horizon for Brunswick police, town, rec facilities

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Changes on horizon for Brunswick police, town, rec facilities

BRUNSWICK — Within the next year, the town's police, municipal and recreation facilities will have nearly tripled in size.

The move of police, municipal and recreation offices to new and separate buildings, which will occur between October and next May, will increase the town facilities from nearly 32,000 square feet to nearly 88,000, according to Town Manager Gary Brown.

The most visible new space is the 20,000 square-foot, two-story Police Station, being built at the corner of Stanwood and Pleasant streets. Construction is expected to be complete by August, and the Police Department is expected to move into the building on Oct. 1.

The station is larger than the space the Police Department now occupies, and local officials said it's about time the move happened.

"When people get a chance to look through our facility, they'll see that it's adequate space, but not by any means extravagant," Deputy Chief Marc Hagan said.

The Police Department operates out of a nearly 9,000-square-foot space in the basement of the town's Municipal Building at 28 Federal St., which Hagan said hampers the department's daily operations for a number of reasons.

One of the major issues the department faces is the way in which officers must bring suspects down a common set of stairs shared with the town's municipal offices.

Hagan said the stairs make it difficult to escort suspects who are intoxicated or violent, especially when the floor gets slippery. Unpleasant suspects can also make for unpleasant visits for citizens conducting business at the municipal offices.

Hagan said the new station will mean "when people come in to pay their tax bill they don't have to listen to screaming downstairs. When (the suspects) start screaming, it resonates throughout the whole office."

The limited access to the Police Department can also make it uncomfortable for victims or others, who might be exposed to accused perpetrators being guided from a holding cell, through the lobby and into an interview room.

"It's not good to parade them past these people and be in an insecure area," Hagan said.

In addition to providing more space for the department's 35 sworn officers and 16 staff members,  the new station will allow officers to process evidence inside.

"When we're trying to get fingerprints off items, you put them in a large tank and fume it, but the chemicals you use we're not set up for use in the facility, so we have to go outside," Hagan said. "We can only process evidence on nice days."

Hagan said the Police Department is expecting to give tours of the new station sometime in September or after the department occupies the building in October.

The Town Council approved borrowing $5.5 million in July 2012 for the project, after councilors rejected a $7 million proposal.

The operating cost of the new station for fiscal year 2014 is nearly $68,000. The bond's debt service in fiscal 2014 is about $436,000.

The opening of the new headquarters will also mark the completion of one part of a transaction that may ultimately see the Brunswick Development Corp. sell the Municipal Building and Recreation Center properties at 28 and 30 Federal St. to Wiscasset-based Coastal Enterprises, which is looking to relocate its main offices.

The Town Council agreed to swap the Municipal Building for the site of the new police station with BDC last fall. BDC bought the police station property for more than $952,000 on the town's behalf in order to expedite the process and save money.

Brown said the town expects to move out of the Municipal Building and into the McLellan Building on Union Street by about April 2014. The move will happen as result of a building exchange with Bowdoin College, which gained control of the town's former Longfellow School.

The building exchange also gave Bowdoin College two years of free rent on all floors of the McLellan Building. Brown said the college is expected to move out of the first two floors by January 2014, but will remain on the third floor for 10 years for free as a part of the agreement.

The Town Council chambers, now being rented from Bowdoin College at Brunswick Station at a discounted rate, will also move to the McLellan Building. Brown said said the town will occupy nearly 16,000 square feet on two floors of the three-story, 33,000 square-foot building.

The last piece of the town's facilities puzzle is the Recreation Center at 30 Federal St., which the town is planning to phase out by September in favor of the 2,000-square-foot former U.S. Navy Field House at Brunswick Landing.

In May, the Town Council authorized Brown to sell the Recreation Center to BDC for the ultimate purpose of selling the lot to CEI.

Negotiations of the sale are still in progress, though the BDC has authorized its president, Larissa Darcy, to engage an attorney to review paperwork for transactions between the town, BDC and CEI.

Dylan Martin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or dmartin@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DylanLJMartin.