The Scarborough Public Safety Complex raised its flag on April 21. All personnel are expected to be fully moved into the new building by the end of next week. Credit: Fire Chief Michael Thurlow

SCARROROUGH — The coronavirus is delaying an in-person open house for Scarborough’s new public safety complex, but police, fire and EMS personnel are transitioning well into the new building, and town officials will be holding to the voters’ mandate that the town borrow no more than $19.5 million to pay for the $21.5 million building.

“This project, the funding was challenging from Day One,” said Town Manager Tom Hall.

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

“It is critical,” Hall said.

Estimates in late 2017 also showed the project was approximately $2.8 million over budget, prompting officials to bridge the gap via alternative revenue sourcesIn December, the town authorized an additional $534,434 in funds to cover final expenses.

This week, Hall told The Forecaster that the building is already under contract, and had the closing planned for the end of April. Hall said he plans to ask the council for permission to delay that for one month due to administrative delays resulting from the coronavirus.

Hall said he would have rather gotten more than the $1.5 million the building is selling for, but even with closing costs and other fees, he believes the ultimate price will match the $1.4 million figure he had wanted.

“There’s sufficient proceeds to cover what we expected,” he said.

Hall said some additional costs add up to a budget overage of under $100,000, which Hall will be asking permission from the town council to borrow money to cover. Hall said even with this added in, the project will still not require the town to borrow more than the $19.5 million limit set by voters.

Personnel began the process of transitioning to the new building on April 10, according to Fire Chief Michael Thurlow.

“The whole process has actually been a phased approach,” he said.

Thurlow said fire administrative personnel had already moved in, and the remaining fire and EMS personnel were planning to move in April 27, less than two years since construction began in fall 2018.

On Wednesday, the town’s dispatch and 911 center transferred over to the new facility. Police Chief Robbie Moulton said the center represented the last piece of the police department, with the rest of the personnel and equipment moved into place. Before the move, Moulton’s office contained a drainpipe which, when it rained, deposited water into a recycle bin. Now, he has a brand-new office, with no drainage issues.

“It’s kind of nice to sit here and not hear any dripping,” he said.

Moulton and Thurlow both noted that the coronavirus created a few problems, especially with maintaining social distancing during the move, but overall the process has been relatively smooth.

“They’re doing a great job at keeping out of each others’ faces,” Moulton said of his personnel.

Unfortunately, Hall said, an open house scheduled for May will have to be postponed until it can be done safely. Thurlow and Moulton both said safety officials are considering doing a virtual tour of the new building, and making it available on the town’s website.

Sean Murphy 780-9094

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