South Portland City Hall, the main library and the central fire station/police station each need thousands of more square footage for staff operations and utilities upgrades, according to a consultant’s assessment.

The facilities assessment presented to the City Council on Tuesday includes options to rebuild or renovate the city buildings to alleviate the space constraints, including repurposing the Mahoney Middle School building and its adjacent baseball field.

The now vacant Mahoney Middle School building and its ballfield factor into the consultant’s suggestions for alleviating a space crunch at city buildings. File photo / The Forecaster

The council will discuss the findings of Sebago Technic’s report at a workshop March 14.

The report identifies the need for the addition of roughly 5,000 square feet at City Hall, 11,300 square feet at the library, 20,600 square feet for the fire station and 10,000 square feet for the police department.

“This whole idea actually began in 2018,” said Owens McCullough of Sebago Technics, who presented the firm’s findings to the council. “The goal was to kind of go through all of the city’s facilities over time and develop sort of a status of the facilities so you could have the information to look ahead and plan and invest in all of these facilities.”

Taking into account preliminary steps such as designing, permitting, public input and applying for grant funding, McCullough said, construction on any project likely wouldn’t begin until 2026 at the earliest.


The most expensive option at an estimated $79.2 million includes building a new City Hall, library and police and fire facilities. The least costly, at $9.2 million calls for renovations at each building.

McCullough told the council, however, that simply renovating each building would not meet programming needs. He used the Cash Corner Fire Station, rebuilt in 2020, as an example.

“We could have renovated the Cash Corner station for a lesser cost than building new,” he said, “but it wouldn’t meet the programming needs … and you’d be putting people in spaces and spending a lot of money that just doesn’t achieve your end goal.”

Meanwhile, McCullough said, the option to build all new facilities doesn’t include the cost for any new property the city would need to buy and thus could be more expensive than the projected $79.2 million. Many of the other eight options involve a mix of renovation and new construction.

One of Sebago Technics’ proposed options is to build a new police department on the Mahoney ballfield. Others note the Mahoney building could be repurposed as City Hall or used for other city departments.

The average of the three most expensive options is roughly $68 million, and funding a project at that cost completely through taxes would result in a 7.2% tax increase, the assessment estimates.

Projects could be tackled one by one, McCullough said, rather than budgeting for several renovations or rebuilds all at once. Some projects may qualify for state and federal funding, he said, if, for example, they involve sustainable energy sources. Grants may also be available specifically for fire and police department projects.

The city’s facilities department has already requested $5 million to be included in next year’s capital improvement plan for projects the council decides to pursue and prioritize, McCullough said.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the council decided to reserve its comments on the assessment for the scheduled workshop next month.

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