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Council debates, approves Police Station upgrades

By Kendra Caruso | Jun 22, 2020
Photo by: Kendra Caruso The side of Belfast Police Station as seen June 23 that was approved for repairs.

Belfast — Police Station renovations costing $58,530 for structural changes and energy efficiency improvements gained approval at the City Council's June 16 meeting.

Belfast City Manager Erin Herbig proposed renovating two outside walls to address falling siding that she said prevents officers from parking near the building. She also proposed  installing a hybrid hot water heater, compressor air conditioning unit and female locker room.

Currently, the station has no female bathroom or locker room to accommodate the two female officers, Herbig said. The station will not have to burn oil through the summer with the new hot water heater, she said. The money will come from multiple police capital funds.

She said the renovations could be done this summer if councilors approved the proposal that night, because the contractor who meets the city’s budget is on a tight summer schedule and will need to start the work soon.

Councilor Mike Hurley said he was frustrated with Herbig because she did not consult the Energy Committee before bringing the proposal to councilors. He asked to table the vote until the next meeting so the committee can look at it and make recommendations, some of which could include insulation that is 2 inches thicker than what is proposed, Hurley said.

Herbig said she previously recommended the renovations as far back as 2012, and if they were not approved that night then it was likely to be a year until they could be completed.

Hurley suggested that she could have sent the Energy Committee a quick email letting members know that she was working on a proposal for the renovations. Herbig doubled down on her defense, stating that the council hired her to get issues like the station’s renovations resolved.

“I think that’s why you hired me in this job,” she said. “… And this is low-hanging fruit.”

At the end of the meeting, Hurley thanked Herbig for the recommendations and said he was not trying to start a debate with her, but that he feels passionately about energy issues in the city. “I can see you like to run, and I don't want to slow you down,” he said.

Councilors decided to approve the renovations, but agreed to let the Energy Committee look at the proposal and issue possible recommendations before the work is done. Herbig recommended that any extra costs from the proposal come from the city’s surplus account.

Councilor Neal Harkness said the Energy Committee can make recommendations, but it is up to councilors to decide if extra money should be spent on the renovations.

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