AUBURN – The evacuated basement beneath the Androscoggin County Building is getting a second whiff.

Emptied last fall after touring Lewiston city councilors complained that it smelled musty, the basement has since been used for storage. It has also left the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department searching for a new work space for its deputies.

Before that happens, county commissioners want another examination of the space.

Commission Chairman Randall Greenwood planned to tour the vacant work spaces as soon as Wednesday. He also may request an air-quality examination, he said.

Greenwood thought the basement deserved a more complete look before spending thousands of dollars on rental space for displaced deputies.

“You say, ‘Is that the most productive way of doing things?'” he said.

Though complaints about the air quality of the basement had been going on for years, the prior commission did not examine possible remedies before it ordered the space vacated.

“The commission does not feel comfortable with the employees having to be exposed to these conditions,” former Chairman Elmer Berry said last October.

Two months later, before there was any follow-up, all three members of the commission were new.

Arrangements were made to send deputies in several directions. Some used desk space in the Poland and Greene fire stations. Others used space at the Auburn Police Department. Others found space upstairs in the county building, making offices out of storage spaces.

Under the direction of the current commission, Sheriff Guy Desjardins has begun looking at possible rental properties in Auburn and Turner to house the patrol division.

If a solution to the basement’s air problem can be found, he would not stand in the way, Desjardins said. But that, too, might be expensive.

“It’s cold in the winter and damp in the summer,” he said.

For Greenwood, the examination will mark his first visit.

“I haven’t even been down there,” he said.



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