Construction of the Skowhegan Public Safety Building is now scheduled for June

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SKOWHEGAN — Although there have been early indications that construction of a public safety building will begin this month, city officials now say work will likely begin in June.

Despite the late start to construction, they say the project schedule has not been affected and plans still call for firefighters and police to move into the new space in May 2023.

Selectmen voted in January to hire Westbrook-based Benchmark Construction to undertake the $8.25 million project.

“The date (April) was probably mentioned several months ago; I did not attach much importance to this date, ”said city manager Christine Almand on Monday. “Recently it was determined that (construction) will start in June, but no firm date has been determined yet.”

The reason for waiting until June, Almand said, is to allow Benchmark time to complete some engineering work focused on the building’s foundation. Officials recently received updated construction renderings to present to the city’s public safety construction committee.

Almand said a meeting was held last week with representatives from Haley Ward, an engineering consultant based in Benchmark and Bangor, to discuss utility costs for the new building. With the building scheduled to open in about a year, funds must be set aside in the next municipal budget to cover these costs.

Skowhegan voters in 2020 passed an $8.9 million bond to build a combined fire and police station on the corner of East Madison Road and Dunlop Lane. In addition to the bond, city officials have a reserve account of $1.1 million that can be used for the project.

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Construction bids initially came back higher than officials expected, but officials responded by making cost-saving changes to the building’s facade and layout.

Fire Chief Shawn Howard said Monday most of the equipment the department needs for the new location it already has. Other supplies, such as offices, have already been budgeted for.

“There’s quite a bit of equipment we’re moving from this station to the new one,” Howard said. “We have a lot of different components that work perfectly, so they will be moved to the new station. There is furniture that needs to be purchased, a desk that we currently don’t have because of the size of the rooms here.

Police Chief David Bucknam previously said he applied for grants to cover various costs, such as lockers and an industrial washer and dryer.

Police operations will move from the city’s municipal building, while firefighters will move out of the Island Avenue fire station. It is unclear at this stage what will become of the station, which is over 100 years old.

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