Wednesday, 19 December 2018 21:37

Skowhegan revisits public safety building after being voted down Featured

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SKOWHEGAN - A new public safety building in Skowhegan could still be in the works, even after officials said the proposal was rejected by about 500 votes last month in a referendum.


"The voters voted, they spoke, this should be a dead issue," said one resident at a public hearing on the topic on Wednesday evening.


The new building would house the police and fire departments. Officials have said both department locations have multiple code violations.


Voters shot down a proposal for a new facility outside the downtown that would have cost $8.5 million.


"I was disappointed but I knew there would be some sticker shock with the price that came in," said Skowhegan Fire Chief Shawn Howard.


Town officials held a public hearing to find out why the idea was voted down. Many of the complaints came down to price and location.


"I think that's a major mistake moving the police station out of town," said Lynda Quinn, a Skowhegan resident. "I'm sorry that is just too much money."


Others appeared angered the town is taking up the idea again so soon.


"You know those little round signs that say 'I voted', we're going to make some for next year that says 'why vote'"," said one man.


Town officials said the more than one hundred year old fire station is in a flood plain and can only be repaired so much. And some residents agree the police station, in the bottom level of the municipal building, is also beyond repair.


"I just went down last week and was appalled at what they have to deal with," said Judi York, a Skowhegan resident. "I live on the south side of town and I have no problem with this being on the north side of town."


Some suggested having two stations - one on either side of the river. But Chief Howard said at the hearing that they don't have the manpower for two stations.


According to town officials, in the meantime, they're taking ideas and heading back to the drawing board.


"It's not a want, it's a need," said Skowhegan Town Manager Christine Almand. "We're looking for as much public input as we can get."


Town officials are going to take the feedback they heard Wednesday evening and from hundreds of surveys they've gotten back, and try to come up with a plan for moving forward.

Kelly Mitchell

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Kelly Mitchell joined the news team in March of 2018. She grew up splitting her time between York, ME and Haverhill, MA, but her favorite childhood memories took place along the rocky coast of southern Maine. She's now e...