Police & Fire

Milo looking to start planning on $6.3M public safety building

MILO — Last month the town of Milo was awarded $6,375,000 in federal monies to construct a new public safety building to house the fire, police and public works departments.

The project is part of nearly $27 million for eight projects across Piscataquis County secured by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, in an omnibus funding bill, and $36 million for public safety facilities and equipment in 27 Maine communities.

“We have been approved and we are going to be receiving $6,375,000 to fund this project,” Town Manager Robert Canney said during a Feb. 7 meeting after having spoken with the Bangor USDA office about the public safety building. “The only way the town has to put in any money is if we go beyond that amount.”

He said the town of Howland recently built a similar structure for its library, ambulance, fire department and town office for a little less than $3.5 million. Milo’s building would be a similar size, Canney said. 

 “They told me our request that was awarded was four times more than the closest other award in the state,” the town manager said, thanking Collins for her efforts. Canney said the funding will need to be formally accepted at the annual town meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 13, at the town hall.

“The only stipulation is it has to be used on a public safety building,” he said, with the fire and police departments to move out of the 100-year-old town hall and public works coming over from its aging garage. 

The town wants to build on Park Street on a pair of lots across the road from JSI Store Fixtures. Canney said if town residents accept the funds, an engineering firm would be hired to conduct site work and determine if the Park Street lots are suitable. If not, then another location would be found.

“There’s a long list of stuff. It’s going to keep us tied up for the next couple of years,” he said. “We wouldn’t even be looking to break ground until 2024 at the earliest.”

A more immediate project would be improvements to the municipal parking lot with much of the funding coming from a downtown revitalization grant. Canney said Milo is eligible for an approximate combined $125,000 after “one caveat and that is the town has to contribute 25 percent.”

“What we’re looking at right now is tearing up the municipal parking lot because it’s in horrible shape,” he said. Public works would conduct earth work to get runoff to go into the catch basins rather than flow down the side and a retaining wall would be installed.

A nearby apartment building may have sewer work done while the parking lot project is going on, and the Milo Water District could also make any improvements while the asphalt is removed.

The select board opted to use $31,250 in ARPA funds to cover its share of the $125,000. The ARPA account stands at $78,811 before the $31,250 is appropriated. Canney said monies will arrive in July so a specific scope of work can be developed before then.

The town manager said U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, was in Milo several weeks ago and King told Canney to please let his office know if there is anything he can do.

Canney said he told an aide, “The town really needs some help with our town hall. This is our community emergency shelter, our heating and cooling shelter. This century-old building serves the community well, but it has a lot of deficiencies.”

He said the kitchen needs to be upgraded in order to be usable. The last estimate for the work was $60,000. Heat pumps could go on various floors, and some windows should be replaced. Canney mentioned a $100,000 ballpark figure and was told King’s office is willing to help find funding for the town hall.

A month before the annual town meeting, Milo officials discussed warrant articles for March 13.

Residents will decide if the town will opt in to marijuana cultivation and manufacturing. Currently two retail stores have permits. 

Another article will concern fund balance in an amount yet to be determined to reduce the tax commitment.

Also next month residents will be asked to approve $23,611 for wages while Officer Daniel Spurgeon attends the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro through the spring.

“I think it was better if it was spelled out. It’s a one-time thing hopefully,” Police Chief Nick Clukey said about this as a separate warrant article rather than be included in the police budget line item. 

“Part of the added expense is we have to pay his wages while he’s at the academy, and we also have to pay someone else’s wages to cover,” Canney said.

The warrant articles will be finalized later in the month.

In recognition of Milo’s Bicentennial, Rep. Chad Perkins, R-Dover-Foxcroft sponsored a Legislative Sentiment with Sen. Stacey Guerin, R-Glenburn cosponsoring. Perkins said earlier in the day the sentiment was read aloud at the statehouse and he presented a copy to the select board.

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