Renovations to the existing building and construction of the nearly 11,000-square-foot addition and a detached secured evidence locker will take about 10 months. Emily Bader / Lakes Region Weekly file photo

Renovations to Windham’s public safety facilities at 375 Gray Road are one step closer to reality after the Planning Board approved plans for the $4.3 million project this week.

The plan calls for renovations to the existing 17,000-square-foot building; a 10,920-square-foot, two-story addition with room for five vehicle bays and 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.

The public safety building at 375 Gray Road was built in 1988 and only has capacity for about half of the current full-time personnel at the police and fire departments. Emily Bader / Lakes Region Weekly file photo

Other improvements include additional parking, patio space, a dumpster area and a new generator for the building. Owens McCullough of South Portland civil engineering firm Sebago Technics said at Monday night’s meeting that the existing septic tank is already equipped for the additional capacity.

The town awarded Great Falls Construction of Gorham the design/build contract in December. Great Falls retained Sebago Technics, Grant-Hays Associates of Falmouth, Allied Engineering of Portland and S.W. Cole Engineering of Gray for civil engineering, architectural, mechanical, electrical and structural, and geotechnical services, respectively.

“The purpose of the project is to modernize the facility and alleviate space constraints that currently exist,” McCullough wrote in a memo.

Residents approved up to $4.9 million in bonds at last year’s Town Meeting for capital improvement projects, including what Town Manager Barry Tibbetts has said are much-needed expansions to the public safety facility.

The existing building was constructed in 1988 and the police and fire departments outgrew the capacity of the building over the years as the town’s population grew, according to Fire Chief Brent Libby.

When the building opened, there were “no full-time staff in the fire department,” Libby said last August.

“The space that we have, we’ve reconstructed, we’ve adapted. We’ve pretty much used every available spot as we’ve grown as a result of our call volume, which in turn is a result of the growth in our town,” he said.

“This addition and renovation (are) going to be a cost-effective way to improve our facility, operation and conditions for our firefighters and EMTs,” Libby said in an email Wednesday.

Police Chief Kevin Schofield said this week that the police side of the building is only 7,200 square feet.

“When the building was first opened and occupied in April 1990, there were 14 or 15 officers. We are now double at 30,” he said.

The Planning Board voted 4-1 to approve the site plan, which is technically an amendment to the site plans for the original 1988 building and the community park, which was approved in 2018.

Chairperson Keith Elder voted against the project, but did not say why. Earlier in the meeting he said he “would have much rather seen a building that’s as attractive as the first building.”

The addition will use the same brick façade as the original building, but will have a flat roof due to construction restraints, McCullough said.

McCullough told the board that Great Falls Construction expects that design will be finalized and construction can begin within the next couple of months, pending building permits. Construction will take about 10 months and Libby and Schofield have worked out plans to temporarily relocate some staff and vehicles,  McCullough said.

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