SCARBOROUGH — The town’s new 53,000-square-foot public safety complex is nearly complete, and the town’s police, fire, and EMS departments are getting set to begin moving in next month.

The building will house all three departments. The town will also move its dispatch and call center into the building. The center handles dispatch for Scarborough and Old Orchard Beach, and offers 911 service for both towns and Buxton, according to Scarborough Fire Chief Michael Thurlow.

Construction began in fall 2018 on the $21.5 million complex, despite a number of funding issues associated with the project.

In November 2017, voters capped at $19.5 million the amount the town would be allowed to bond for the construction, prompting city officials to cover the balance using reserve funds and proceeds from the eventual sale of the current public safety building and land near the Oak Hill intersection with Gorham and Black Point roads.

Later in the year, estimates showed the project was approximately $2.8 million over budget, prompting officials to bridge the gap via alternative revenue sources. In December, the town authorized an additional $534,434 in funds to cover final expenses.

Thurlow said the final inspections and commissioning process will happen in early April, with the start of the moving process scheduled for April 10. Thurlow said it would take a couple of weeks to transfer over completely.

Police Chief Robbie Moulton said the last expansion of space for public safety was an addition to the current building back in 1989, and it wasn’t enough.

“It was basically filled the day we moved into it,” he said.

Before long, Moulton said, what were supposed to be interview rooms became offices, and many police and fire personnel found themselves working out of spaces that were supposed to be waiting areas. Even the lockers, Moulton said, were too small.

“We’ve been very, very cramped here,” he said.

Having extra space, Thurlow said, is one of the things he’s looking forward to the most. The town’s third ambulance, which has to be housed at the department’s Dunstan station, will have a new bay at the main complex which, given the proximity to locations of the majority of the town’s EMS calls, is where it belongs.

“This is the busiest district that we’ve got,” he said.

Thurlow also said he is looking forward to the training room. A classroom-type room the size of the current town council meeting room, it will be used for training safety personnel, but will also be available as a community space.

The complex is slightly larger than the department needs right now, but Thurlow said that’s by design, so the town’s public safety departments can grow into it, not run out of space immediately, like what happened in 1989.

“There are some additional dorm rooms that we won’t be using (on) Day One, but there’s not a lot of that,” Thurlow said.

Moulton said an additional benefit is that the complex is right next door to the municipal building. The current building, which is across the street, makes visits from the department to town hall, across the multi-lane Route 1, more difficult.

“It’s like playing ‘Frogger,'” Moulton said.

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