BELFAST — The city of Belfast was awarded $1.5 million in Congressional Designated Spending in the FY2023 Omnibus Spending Bill. The funds will be a key part of the capital necessary for construction of a combined public safety building, according to a press release from the city.

“The goal of this project is to design and house our emergency units together in a facility that is designed for modernized emergency services,” Mayor Eric Sanders said in the release. “Our region, and the services we provide, (are) growing and this facility is an important step in meeting the needs of our modern world.”

Earlier this year the City Council authorized submission of four Congressionally Directed Spending requests by Economic Development Director Thomas Kittredge. The request approved by Congress was for a new or renovated expanded public safety building.

The city’s request was to construct a modern, efficient public safety building that will allow the city to unify its fire, EMS and police departments under a single roof, yielding a variety of benefits to the community and the region. Benefits include increased interoperability, reduced energy costs, and increased ability to attract and retain public safety employees.

The city is eying the current home of the Belfast Fire Department and EMS as a potential location. No specific construction timetable exists currently. At the Jan. 3, 2023, City Council meeting, city staff will seek authorization to hire an engineering firm to establish preliminary cost estimates.

The congressional funding is the first step in a multi-part plan to pay for the project.

“We will be looking to additional federal and state funding options for emergency services,” Belfast City Manager Erin Herbig said in the release. “Our goal is that this infrastructure investment will place as little burden on the Belfast taxpayers as possible while, at the same time, making important investments in our emergency responders and the delivery of service to our residents.”