FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners will hold a workshop Monday to go over an architectural firm’s proposals to help alleviate space crunches, environmentally unsafe working conditions and safety concerns in county buildings.

The new proposal is expected to cost about $5 million. It calls for the county to buy the Church Street Commons, across from the Franklin County Courthouse to put the registries of deeds and probate, move the district attorneys offices to the offices those departments move out of, and build a new public safety building around the Sheriff’s Department office and communications center.

The meeting will be held at 9 a.m., Jan. 25 at the courthouse with commissioners, county Building Committee members and representatives of Smith Reuter Lull Architects of Lewiston to examine options more closely.

The architectural firm has been working with the county for about two years. It was hired to do a comprehensive study of county facilities and recommend changes to eliminate problems.

The firm has brought forth several proposals during that time, which have led to other options for the county to consider.

The newest option would be to buy Church Street Commons at an estimated cost of about $800,000 and renovate it for $589,000, according to information presented Tuesday.

The plan includes installing an elevator for about $125,000 to make all three floors in the building handicap accessible.

The issue with deeds and probate, architect Noel Smith said, is they need a high-strength structure to deal with all the records they keep. The Church Street Commons building is built to those specifications, he said.

Probate services would go on the first floor and there would be a space for a courtroom, Smith said. Deed services would go on the second floor, he said. The bottom floor could be used for storage or the county could lease offices to others, he said.

Smith said buying the building outright and the county doing the renovations would be cheaper than having the building’s owners do the renovations and the county leasing the building.

According to John Cleveland, a consultant who works with the architects, it would cost about $177,000 a year to lease the building with a 10-year lease.

If that happened, the District Attorneys Office and support staff could move out of the basement of the courthouse, Smith said. There are small office spaces down there and there are air quality issues, he said. The basement could be used for short-term.

That would leave a new building to be built for public safety operations, which would incorporate the current sheriff’s office and communications center building, into the new building, he said.

It would house the Sheriff’s Department, dispatchers and the county Emergency Management Agency, Smith said.

 The construction of a new building is estimated to cost $1.8 million, plus $200,000 to renovate the existing Sheriff’s Department building, and an additional $330,000 to build a new storage, maintenance building.

Overall construction costs and maintenance costs for the entire plan is estimated to be $3.5 million. Administrative costs are estimated at $361,800, fees and services at $358,000 and the purchase of the Church Street Common building at $800,000.

Cleveland explained some estimated costs for planning purposes and bonding options and how they would affect taxpayers, if commissioners sent the proposal to voters and it was approved.

 Those costs ranged from adding $8.71 a year to a tax bill for a property valued at $100,000, to payments of $7.61 cents for a 30-year term bond.

[email protected]

Franklin County commissioners, Gary McGrane of Jay, far right, and Fred Hardy of New Sharon, right, review a proposed design Tuesday for a new $3.5 million county public safety building and storage building with architects, Noel Smith, left, and Stephanie Lull.

Architect Noel Smith explains a proposed design for a new $3.5 million county public safety building and storage building, not shown, to Franklin County commissioners on Tuesday.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.