Selectmen to consider (another) new police station proposal

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FARMINGTON – The board of selectmen will consider conducting a feasibility study with a Lewiston architect firm on the advantages of relocating the police department to a new building at the intersection of High Street and Farmington Falls Road at their Tuesday meeting.

The Lewiston-based firm of Smith Reuter Lull Architects has proposed a solution to the Farmington Police Department’s lack of space at the municipal building on the Farmington Falls Road. That firm is currently working with the county in a project to redesign and shift departments and offices within the Franklin County Courthouse and other facilities.

The firm’s new proposal, which is still in the early stages of development and has yet to be reviewed by the selectmen, would be to build a new facility on the site of the former town garage. That site, near the intersection of High Street and Farmington Falls Road, was replaced by the Public Works Facility in 2005. Smith Reuter Lull has suggested that this new facility could also house the county’s Emergency Management Agency office and Franklin County’s dispatch center.

EMA currently works out of the courthouse basement, while the dispatch center shares a facility, the so-called “white house,” with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department. Smith Reuter Lull representatives have noted that getting all departmental offices out of the basement of the courthouse is one of their primary concerns. Others have suggested that in the event of an emergency, having the dispatch and EMA personnel in the same building would be a good idea.

This plan would also reduce the space concerns at the courthouse, which will likely undergo a major renovation sometime in the near future, at the white house, where county commissioners have said that getting the dispatch department more room is important, and at the Farmington municipal building.

“It wouldn’t be a huge difference,” Town Manager Richard Davis said, “the space [the Farmington Police Department] has right now is minuscule, but we can always use more room.”

Moving either the Code Enforcement Office or the Fire Chief’s office around are possible uses for the space, but Davis stressed that the proposal had yet to be presented to the selectmen for discussion.

Currently, the police department has only a few hundred square feet of space at the municipal building. Whether  to move the department to a new facility has been debated at selectmen meetings, annual town meetings and elsewhere for years.

“The idea would be to get these departments together and try to achieve some economies of scale,” Davis said.

Selectmen will consider a letter submitted by Smith Reuter Lull and whether or not to conduct the feasibility study, which would examine the project in greater detail. That firm first presented the general idea of a consolidated facilty at a July 1 county commissioner meeting, but that plan called for a facility near the jail which would also encompass the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department.

The site of the former Public Works garage at the intersection of High Street and Farmington Falls Road is where one proposal is under consideration to build a new Farmington police station that would also house the county’s dispatch center and emergency management agency office.

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