Construction on the new $20.5 million Augusta Police Station will begin this week

AUGUSTA – Construction of the new $20.5 million Augusta Police Station is set to begin Friday, across from the building that served as the city’s police station for over a century.

The site where construction of the new station is about to begin is across Willow Street from the old City Hall building, which once housed the police department. Towards the end of its service as a police station 25 years ago, the building housed not only the city’s police force, but also a large population of pigeons and bats, and their droppings, on the condemned top floor of the brick building. Officers, some so eager to get out of this site that they used their own vans to move their equipment, then moved to a former Naval Reserve building on Union Street in 1998, in what, at the time, was considered a temporary location. .

Nearly 25 years later, officers are eager to move again, now out of Union Street Station which has a leaky roof, unsafe water, rotting floors and insufficient heat.

“It’s an incredible day for an incredible project. I think it’s fitting that in giving this speech, I look across the street to where we came from 25 years ago,” said Police Chief Jared Mills Thursday at a groundbreaking ceremony for the new station.About 100 people attended the event, including current and retired police officers as well as a handful of residents of the former City Hall building, which has been redeveloped into senior housing as The Inn at City Hall.

Mills was hired as a patrol just as the department had moved to the Union Street site. A handful of retirees from the department who worked there when it was still at the old town hall, joined by the few current officers who also worked there, reminisce about the old days of the department.

Chief Jared Mills points to The Inn at City Hall, the former home of the Augusta Police Department, during a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday for the city’s new police station on Willow Street. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“For 100 years, the police have served the community from this ancient building,” said Christian Behr, Department Historian, who now works as a detective for the Kennebec County District Attorney’s Office. “Now, 25 years later, and 100 feet across the street, the police will be there helping the public again. I like it because of the historical significance. We are almost back to where we started.

Behr said the move to the new station will require adding a page to the department’s history. This story is set to be showcased in the new station, where a small museum-like exhibit will showcase artifacts and a description of the department’s past.

Work on the new station is expected to begin on Friday, with some utilities in the current building being disconnected. The current building will be demolished to make way for a new structure. Matt Nazar, director of city development and project manager for the new station construction project, said construction is expected to begin on Monday. He said the building should be ready for occupancy in February 2024.

Mayor Mark O’Brien, whose home adjoins the site, said the groundbreaking was a historic event for the city, after many years of police work in a substandard building and repeated efforts to construct a new station.

An architectural rendering depicts plans for a new Augusta Police Department building off Willow Street. Construction will begin in full on Monday. Rendered courtesy of Port City Architecture

“I remember talking to Chief Mills about the need (for a new station), and he pointed out to me that the roof was leaking, the floors rotting and the water was not potable,” O’Brien said. , referring to some of the problems at Union Street station. “The new station will be a public building of which our fellow citizens can be proud and a facility that our men and women in blue, who have shown so much patience, deserve. This location is very conveniently located across from our municipal offices and very close to downtown, with easy access to both sides of the Kennebec River. It makes available to the general public a highly visible plot that has been dormant and decaying for many years. In these times and in some places it may not be easy to be in law enforcement. But let this project be concrete proof that the citizens of Augusta support our police and that they have their backs”.

Voters approved the $20.5 million loan build the new station in June 2021.

The new station will be built at 7 Willow St., the former vacant location of a Hannaford supermarket.

Dirt flies Thursday as city officials dig during a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Augusta police station on Willow Street. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

It will be a new two-story, 25,000 square foot facility with solar panels on its roof, secure parking for police, two elevators, an evidence lab, interrogation rooms, a dispatch, a drive-through exit port to bring people into custody into the building, a fitness area for employees, and a large open public lobby.

Longtime former city manager William Bridgeo, who was just elected to represent Augusta in the state House of Representatives, said the grand opening of the new station is long overdue. He has worked with Mills to initiate the process of finding a site and securing funding for the project over the past few years.

“Hats off to all the men and women of the police department for their immense patience,” Bridgeo said after the inauguration. “A lot of rigor in the selection of the site and, in the end, I think that process worked. Because this seems like the perfect site for it.

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