The Ellsworth Police Department could move out of City Hall by next July.
Ellsworth City Hall is seen on June 14, 2022. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

ELLSWORTH, Maine — The city is looking to move the police department out of City Hall to a former hardware store building near the Lamoine and Trenton town lines.

The department would be moved to the former Associated Builders office, at the corner of High Street and Buttermilk Road, according to a memo posted late Friday afternoon on the city’s website.

The City Council is expected to consider the proposed move at its monthly meeting on Monday.

Under the proposed agreement, the city would lease the 8,400-square-foot building from Gurney Investment Properties Inc. for 20 years starting at a rate of $113,400 a year. The rent would increase 3 percent each year after the first year and, over the 20-year term of the lease, is expected to total more than $3 million.

The city also would spend an estimated $867,557 to renovate and furnish the building before the police department moves in. The renovations likely would include:

— Remodeling the main floor and basement

— Upgrading the plumbing, heating, electrical and lighting systems

— Reroofing the building

— Building a carport on the rear side of the building

— Installing privacy fencing

— Painting the building

Other renovations could include installing bullet-proof glass and walls, and a generator.

Glenn Moshier, Ellsworth’s city manager and police chief, and Dale Hamilton, the council chair, didn’t return calls for comment Friday afternoon.

In July, when the council established the public safety building committee and a special council meeting, Moshier told councilors that Ellsworth had looked into prior options for constructing a public safety building separate from City Hall.

“It quickly became understood that it was probably unrealistic that the public safety building was anything that the city was going to be able to afford anytime in the immediate future due to the sheer cost of it,” Moshier said at the time.

In the memo to the council that he wrote Friday, Moshier said an architecture firm estimated in 2015 that the cost of constructing a new public safety building for the police and fire departments would cost more than $20 million. That estimate did not include the cost of including a proposed new city-run ambulance service, which Ellsworth is now strongly considering.

In recent years, the city has informally mentioned the possibility of moving the police department to where the fire department is located now, in the basement at City Hall, after moving the fire department to a different site. Two possible new locations for the fire department that have been discussed in the past decade include a former city-owned ballfield on State Street, which since has been developed into a nursing home, and the baseball field at the city’s high school.

The fire department has not been moved, however, and more recent interest in establishing a city-run ambulance service has put a premium on the amount of space available at City Hall, Moshier told the council in July.

As far back as 10 years ago, the Maine Chiefs of Police Association evaluated the police department’s current space at City Hall and determined it was inadequate, according to Moshier. Since then, he said, the problem has become more acute.

“The reality is that our space is becoming less and less adequate,” Moshier said in July.

If the council approves the lease, renovation of the new location likely would get underway in December and be completed by next July, according to Moshier’s memo.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....