A vacant city building at 85 Park St. in Lewiston will house members of several joint law enforcement agencies, including the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, which will lease space. Staff photo

LEWISTON — A plan to house law enforcement personnel at the former Violations Bureau building on Park Street is moving forward, and will include a five-year lease with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.

During a Tuesday workshop, the City Council gave a nod of approval for a lease agreement between the city and MDEA, which would pay $15,000 per year to lease renovated office space there.

The city building at Park and Ash streets was vacated by the state in 2018, and early last year Lewiston police moved forward with plans to renovate the space to make it suitable for law enforcement, in particular, members of joint task forces working in Lewiston.

According to a City Council memo, MDEA agents are occupying space at the Lewiston Armory, and other state law enforcement personnel use space at the Public Works facility on River Road.

Now, the joint agency operations involving Lewiston police and state and federal personnel will move to Park Street, where renovations will be completed soon.

The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency will lease space in the facility to “assist in defraying the costs of building operations,” the memo states.

The lease commences Jan. 21 and is good through Dec. 31, 2025.

According to a memo from Police Chief Brian O’Malley, the plan to expand into 85 Park St. is a result of a lack of space at the police station.

“The goal is to have all of these task forces located in the same building so they can all work together collaboratively and focus on crime occurring here in Lewiston,” O’Malley said in the memo to city staff. “Ideally, I would like to have all of the agencies and task force agents at the Police Department, but this is not possible with our current building.”

He said the Lewiston officers working with MDEA have been at the Armory, while an officer assigned to the Central Maine Violent Crimes Task force, a collaboration with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives, is at Public Works.

O’Malley said another Lewiston officer, along with MDEA agents assigned to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, an effort to reduce drug trafficking and production, are in need of space.

During a press conference Monday after a weekend shooting on Walnut Street, O’Malley said in order to combat drug-trafficking and violence issues in Lewiston, an FBI agent with the Safe Streets Task Force will also be assigned “permanently” to Lewiston to assist in the investigation.

An earlier memo said the task force is “designed to eliminate threats and violence by working collaboratively with local law enforcement.”

“We’re working on renovating some space so the FBI agent, agents with the ATF and MDEA and our undercover officer can have a place to work together and share information,” he said during the news conference.

Asked Tuesday, City Administrator Ed Barrett said the amount of space under the lease is roughly 1,750 square feet, which he said it just a small section of the two-story building.

During the workshop, Mayor Mark Cayer thanked O’Malley and the department for its “tough work” stemming from the weekend shooting incident.

“I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that,” he said.

Next year’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan includes $280,000 for a building study and other possible expansion-related plans at the Police Department.

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