Friday, July 9, 2021

Windham's Public Safety Building renovation and expansion officially under way

Members of Windham's Town Council, construction officials,
town public safety members and first responders, and Windham's
town manager gathered at the Windham Public Safety Building
at 375 Gray Road on July 2 to officially break ground for
expansion and renovation of the 33-year-old public safety
facility. Great Falls Construction of Gorham will work on
the $4.3 million project and expects to complete construction
in about 10 months. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE
By Ed Pierce

It’s been a long time coming, but ground has finally been broken on the $4.3 million expansion of Windham’s Public Safety Building at 375 Gray Road.

In a special groundbreaking ceremony conducted on July 2, members of the Windham Town Council joined Windham’s Police Chief and Fire Chief and construction officials in celebrating the start of the highly anticipated project.

When construction work is finished, the existing 17,000-square-foot building will add a 15,247-square foot renovation including joint space for both the Windham Fire Department and the Windham Police Departments. The project features a two-story 5,840-square-foot addition that will house five apparatus bays, a public safety decontamination space, bunk rooms, kitchen and offices for the Fire Department and an additional 1,305-square-foot standalone three-bay space for vehicle and evidence storage for the Police Department, along with the creation of a second elevator for the building.

Construction work will be performed by Great Falls Construction of Gorham, that has worked on four other projects for the town of Windham and many public safety buildings throughout southern and central Maine.

“We’ve looked at the needs of our police and fire departments for a while and this is a much-needed expansion of Windham’s Public Safety Building,” said Windham Town Manager Barry A. Tibbetts. “We thank the voters for their support and to the Windham Town Council in moving this forward.”

Renovation will take place throughout the entire building and will include HVAC and lighting upgrades to increase efficiencies and updating finishes throughout the building, to include a revised locker room space. Work on the facility during the project will create an additional 10 new parking spaces and a 1,305-square-foot, single-story secured evidence locker that will be located on the corner of the property, along with additional parking, patio space, a dumpster area and a new generator for the building.

Jon Smith, the owner of Great Falls Construction attended the groundbreaking event, as did Architect Mike Hays of Grant Hays Associates of Falmouth, and Owens McCullough of the civil engineering firm Sebago Technics of South Portland and representatives of the structural engineering company Allied Engineering of Portland.

Smith said the entire project team is based in Maine and it’s a great way to give back to the Maine community and support Maine’s workforce.

To accommodate the renovation project, Windham firefighters have temporarily moved out of the building for the duration of construction work, while the Windham Police Department will continue to use the facility as the work progresses.

In 2020, Windham residents approved up to $4.9 million in bonds during the Annual Town Meeting for capital improvement projects, including funding the expansion for the town’s public safety building. Additional funding for the building renovation is derived from town impact fees, which typically run about $300 to $3,500 for new residential developments, with fees for new commercial buildings figured based on purpose and overall square footage.

The current Public Safety Building on Gray Road was built in 1988 at a time when none of the town’s firefighters were full-time staff members and Windham only had about 15 or so police officers on duty. Through the decades as Windham has grown, the town now employs eight professional firefighters and the town’s police force has doubled in size to 30 officers.

Windham Fire Chief Brent Libby said that firefighters have adapted the best they could to the current public safety facility but welcome and appreciate the new expansion.

“It’s a great transition,” Libby said. “There was no room in the current building for future expansion and now we’ll have more space and room to grow. It will provide us with a classroom for training and bathrooms. This project is huge for us and this location is very important for us allowing us to reach wherever we are needed in the town in a short period of time.”

Windham Police Chief Kevin L. Schofield said police officers are grateful for the extra room created from the expansion.

“It’s nice to see that the town and the community has invested in itself,” Schofield said. “It will result in a more modern professional workspace for us as our staffing has doubled in size. It will be adequate space for them for the foreseeable future.”

Police officers first started using the existing Windham Public Safety Building in April 1990.

Mike Hays, the architect who helped create the final design for the building expansion, said he’s humbled to be part of such vital work.

“It’s a great day for Windham’s first responders and I’m excited to be part of such an exciting project. It will be home base for first responders who serve all of the residents of this town.”

Owens McCullough said Sebago Technics is thrilled to work on the project and everyone involved with the renovation and expansion work is eager to get going.

“It’s really a team that makes this happen,” he said.

Construction work is expected to take about 10 months to complete, Tibbetts said. <

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