Police & Fire

Plymouth Engineering chosen for Milo public safety building design

MILO — A key early step toward the multi-year construction process of a near $6.4 million Milo public safety building project was taken with the selection of a firm to come with a design for the structure. After seeing preliminary plans drafted by Plymouth Engineer, the select board opted to go with this firm rather than go out to bid during a June 6 meeting.

At March’s annual town meeting, attendees formally accepted $6,375,000 in federal funds for the construction of a new public safety building. 

In January the town was awarded the near $6.4 million to construct a new building to house the fire, police, and public works departments. Plans are for the structure to be located less than a mile up Park Street, near the business park and across the road from the Milo Water District office, from the 100-year-old town hall where the fire and police departments are currently located. USDA is the managing agency for the project. 

Staff Engineer Keith Ewing of Plymouth Engineering told Milo officials about a preliminary project budget based on USDA requirements and showed sketches broken down into phases.  He said Milo originally planned on a design-build process but USDA wants to with design-bid-build. 

“Design-build gives us more flexibility with who we choose to build the project and possibly the final outcome will look like, but the USDA likes to go with a design bid build because you put it out to bid and you get your low bid up front and they cannot go beyond that bid,” Town Manager Robert Canney said. He said this process removes risk as the contactor cannot go over the allotted amount.

He said Plymouth Engineering has designed an initial set of plans — at no cost which Canney compared to a free call to an attorney — prior to USDA getting involved 

“We have done 10 fire stations in the last eight years,” Ewing said, mentioning a building in Howland, another in Newport, and the preliminary plans for Greenville’s forthcoming public safety building.

“It’s an L-shaped building that allows the fire department to be on the lower section, public works will be on the upper section, and police will have their secure facilities around the corner,” he said as town officials and audience members looked at architectural plans. Ewing said as of now the building has about 30,000 square feet.

“The interior design hasn’t been discussed at all, this is just a starting point,” Canney said.

Before the select board made its decision to proceed with Plymouth Engineering at a rate of about $27,000, the town manager said if the firm is hired then the planning process will start. “Everything is preliminary at this point,” he said. “It will be adjusted accordingly to fit our budget and needs.”

“We are going to have public hearings so once we get the design sort of where we want to be so people can come in and talk to us about it and express their concerns and ask questions,” the town manager said.

Canney said under USDA policies, the construction would be done by the low bidder provided all conditions are met. He said the agency would give preference to a Maine-based business if this comes up.

The firm awarded the bid may opt to go with its own engineer for design beyond the initial plans, as was the case in Greenville. Canney said. He said the entire design costs could be around $200,000, but this is all funded by the USDA grant.

When asked, Ewing said it would be four to five months before plans are sent off to USDA.

In other business, Town Clerk Betty Gormley said a special town meeting vote concerning the municipal parking lot upgrades is needed. This has been scheduled for Wednesday, July 5 at 6:30 p.m. prior to the next select board meeting (moved back a day on account of Independence Day).

Much of the funding for the project comes from a downtown revitalization grant, with an approximate combined $125,000 between a grant and town contribution.

In the spring the select board opted to use $31,250 in ARPA funds to cover its 25 percent share of the $125,000. The ARPA account stands at $78,811 before the $31,250 is appropriated. Monies will arrive in July so a specific scope of work can be developed before then.

Milo Elementary and Brownville Elementary School physical education and health teacher Dawn McLaughlin — who was recently named the 2023 Piscataquis County Teacher of the Year — gave an update on the after school Bearcats program. She said this will be transitioning to a summer camp program under the Milo and Brownville recreation departments.

“So we hit the ground running and by the end of it we were up to 50 students,” McLaughlin said about the Bearcats program.

In addition to being able to play games while their parents are working on Mondays through Thursdays, BearCats have gone swimming on a weekly basis and taken part in activities such as ice fishing, ice skating, going to basketball games, walking to the library, and learning about making pizza at local restaurants. 

“We didn’t catch any fish, but the kids had a lot of fun,” McLaughlin said about the March trip to Schoodic Lake. She said the Bearcats students got to see dog sleds and snowmobiles and enjoyed a hot dog cookout.

“Financially we are about $5,000 away from meeting next year’s budget,” she said, through grants and the support of area businesses and organizations. BearCats has different price rates to be affordable for all SAD 41 families.

“Moving forward we are hoping to be sustainable and to make a difference in our students every day,” McLaughlin said. She said teachers have told her how students are doing better in math thanks to the homework help provided, and Bearcats participants have earned stickers encouraging them to be asked about how they did on their math tests.

Canney said work continues to raise funds for an addition at the Veterans Memorial at Evergreen Cemetery to honor first responders. “Our goal is to have that in place by Labor Day Weekend,” he said.

The Milo Fire Department has donated some of the proceeds coming from this past February’s 61st annual Schoodic Lake Ice Fishing Derby for the addition to recognize members of the fire and police departments and EMS.

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