Maine voters approve $45M bond replacing old firehouse with central public safety building
Voters in Auburn approved funding that would relocate a ladder truck and provide decontamination and training space
By Andrew Rice
AUBURN, Maine — Voters on Tuesday approved a bond of up to $45 million for a new public safety building.
The building will replace the Central Fire Station at 550 Minot Ave. and also house the police and fire departments, both of which city officials have said are in desperate need of new homes.
The vote was 3,392 to 2,405.
The cost of the project is estimated at up to $45 million, although city leaders stressed the final cost may not be that high. With the average interest rate for the proposed bond at about 4%, the total amount of debt for the city over 30 years could reach to $82.8 million.
The Police Department has been operating at Auburn Hall at 60 Court St. since 2011, a then-temporary solution because its former station at 1 Minot Ave. needed costly repairs. The location was only meant to be a five-year solution until a headquarters could be built.
A study commissioned by the city found several issues with the current spaces, and recommended the best option for creating a public safety campus was to build a combined central fire and police station at the Minot Avenue property.
Challenges for police — who share space in the Auburn Hall with other city operations — include space constraints, safety concerns involving prisoner interaction with the public, access to officer safety equipment, accommodations for female officers, adequate locker rooms and a lack of restrooms, training space and storage space for evidence, equipment, uniforms and supplies.
The Fire Department lacks space for its primary ladder truck, which officials say should be centrally located. The station, built in 1972, no longer meets the needs of modern services, lacking decontamination and training spaces, ADA compliance and storage space, according to city officials.
Since the project was first announced in 2021 and ultimately approved by the City Council this year, the estimated cost rose significantly. The original estimated price tag was $27 million, and that was to include a new Engine 2 station on South Main Street, and renovating the Engine 5 facility on Center Street.