Renovating the former fire station in downtown Hallowell so it can house the police department is one of the city’s top priorities this year, according to Mayor George Lapointe and City Manager Gary Lamb. The voter-approved plan is estimated to cost up to $5 million. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

HALLOWELL — The city began the year with the swearing-in of incoming councilors — incumbent Peter Spiegel and newcomer Ryan Martin — and an inaugural address by Mayor George Lapointe.

“As I reflect on the past year, Hallowell had a great year,” Lapointe said during Tuesday’s meeting. “Our city is hopping. Businesses appear to be busy, and people are out and about wherever you go. Holding Old Hallowell Day after missing two years was grand; you could see and feel the celebration in every person. So, we start 2023 from a good position.”

Lapointe and City Manager Gary Lamb’s 2023 goals include finding a new spot for the city’s public works facility and renovating its historic fire station so that it can house the police department. Both items were placed on the November ballot as nonbinding referendum questions and received overwhelming approval from voters.

Lapointe said these are what he and Lamb, personally, view as priorities, adding that the City Council has not yet held a priority-setting session.

The mayor said the city’s recently approved comprehensive plan will also set the framework for Hallowell’s plans in 2023 and for the next decade. Areas highlighted in the plan include housing, land use, mobility, arts and culture, recreation and the outdoors.

Lapointe said he hopes to see the City Council revisit the comprehensive plan twice a year to ensure it is adhering to those goals.


The city manager said he would like to see the budget approved before the closing of the fiscal year on June 30. Last year, city officials approved the budget on July 11.

“We came close to (June 30) last year,” he said, “but didn’t quite make it.”

For public works, Lamb said the city is currently looking at a 29.15-acre lot at 21 Pinnacle Drive as a possible spot for a multi-bay facility. According to an online listing, the property is currently for sale for $275,000, well below the estimated $2 million to $3 million voters supported for purchasing land for the project.

Hallowell also recently held a meeting with Manchester and Farmingdale about sharing municipal resources. No additional discussions have been held to this point, but Lamb said the lot at 21 Pinnacle Drive has a great deal of potential, as it is large enough to allow for the city to explore locating other facilities and services there in the future.

The fire station renovation, which also received strong voter approval in November, would include renovation of the nearly 200-year-old building, allowing it to house the police department and to continue housing the food pantry, all while leaving some additional room for community space.

Lamb said the city would need to budget at least $100,000 to $200,000 for architectural services, after which the project could go out to bid. Officials provided an overall project estimate of $4 million to $5 million on the ballot.


He said the council and finance committee would likely determine the next steps for the project later this month and establish a work plan.

Looking back on his first full year as a city manager, Lamb said he’s looking forward to seeing things open a bit more as the threat of the pandemic appears to be winding down.

“(COVID-19) has been tough on everybody — the whole globe, never mind just the country and town,” he said. “But we’re coming out of that, and we’ve got a building that’s going to be more open. The City Council is going to move down into the chambers, hopefully for the February meeting.” The council has been temporarily meeting in the auditorium in City Hall.

Lapointe shared similar sentiments about the apparent diminishing threat of COVID-19.

“2022 was just like emerging from COVID,” said Lapointe, “which just felt good. And obviously we’re not through all that yet, but just seeing people out and about more, like during Old Hallowell Day, was quite good.”

The council’s first formal meeting of the year is set for Monday, Jan. 9, at 6 p.m., and is scheduled to be held in-person at City Hall and broadcast over Zoom.

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