FARMINGTON — Architects presented a plan and cost estimates for renovating the Franklin Avenue medical building into the new police station on Wednesday.
Franklin Memorial Hospital offered the building as a gift to the town to help solve the need for space for the Police Department, pending voter approval at the April town meeting.
Selectmen hired Bunker and Savage Architects to provide a plan for renovations of the 6,180-square-foot building, adapting much of what is already there to meet the needs of the department.
"The building is in excellent shape. It's a very good gift," Craig Boone of Bunker and Savage said.
Energy conservation measures including adding insulation, replacing windows, adding vinyl siding, replacing heating and air systems and changing electrical baseboard heat in some areas to a hot water system were among suggested improvements.
A fire alarm system, security system, generator and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant bathrooms need to be added, he said.
Included in the plan is a three-bay, 24-foot by 48-foot garage with attic storage proposed to be built on the left corner of the lot.
Cost estimates, including renovations, paving, roofing and garage construction, are $804,000 or about one-third the cost of building a new police station, Town Manager Richard Davis said. The amount also includes architectural/engineering fees, an equipment allowance, site survey and advertising and legal fees.
While accepting the department's need for more space, voters turned down a referendum in 2009 for construction of a new station by about 125 votes.
People recognize the need and this is a cost effective way to solve it, he said. Town meeting will provide an opportunity for a conversation about what's needed, he added.
When some expressed "sticker shock" over the price, he reminded them this is a high estimate. Selectmen will decide next week what amount to put on the warrant.
Selectman Andrew Hufnagel suggested contractor bids could come in much lower.
William Crandall asked about moving the town office to the medical building and leaving the fire and police departments together at the Municipal Building.
Davis said he had thought about it, but moving the police would mean few renovations would be needed at the Municipal Building. The Police Department needs require less renovations of the medical building than if the town offices moved there.
If the police took over the town office space, more renovations would be needed for both buildings and ADA requirements would have to be addressed at the Municipal Building, including installing an elevator, a costly venture.
Questions were asked about phasing in certain parts of the project such as roofing, paving and the garage. Some things can be done in phases but preventing energy waste that exists now at the medical building need to be addressed, Boone said.
Involving students at Foster Technology Center is being considered to help with the garage, vinyl siding and roofing.
Hufnagel suggested the town sell the property at the intersection of High Street and Farmington Falls Road, the earlier proposed site for construction of a new building, and use the amount for the renovations.
If voters accept the gift of the building, it will need to be used and prepared for the department, Davis explained, while suggesting it might be better to do it now and not have to do much to it for another 30 years.