Newly renovated facility has eight-year history

Gerry James, Special to The County
17 years ago

On Saturday July 21st the Presque Isle Public Works department held a ribbon cutting ceremony marking the opening of its newly renovated facility. The ribbon cutting marked the culmination of eight years of searching, planning and building support for the project.
    It all started when I contacted Larry Clark, the executive director of the Presque Isle Industrial Council, and asked if there was any space available on the park to store some equipment for the winter. He made room for us in one of the old missile hangars. It worked out so well that we asked for more space. The idea was hatched that it might be possible to convert one of these unoccupied buildings into a garage that would house the entire Public Works Department under one roof.
We did a space needs assessment and consulted with Mark Carter at North Peak Architecture to draw a conceptual floor plan. We reworked that plan several times, off and on, over the next three years until we were satisfied that it would work. During the planning we also explored the possibility of building a completely new facility or adding on to the existing garage. Renovating the missile hangar was the most practical, sensible and economical option.
In the end it made sense to use an existing building that the City already owned and that was large enough to meet the department’s needs for the present and well into the future.
When the plans were presented to the City Council, they gave their approval as long as it didn’t require a tax increase to pay for it.
Now the challenge was to find as much money from outside sources as possible. I had heard about congressional earmark funds and decided to pursue that source. I contacted Sen. Olympia Snowe’s office and requested the application forms. In April of 2005 the forms were sent to Sen. Susan Collins and Congressman Michael Michaud as well as to Sen. Snowe’s office. Through their cooperative efforts, we were notified in November of 2005, that we had been awarded $700,000 toward the project. We now had a large part of the funding needed to make this an affordable project.
The City Council gave us permission to do final design and go to bid for construction.
The bid was awarded to JP Martin and Sons Construction from Caribou in September of 2006. The demolition and renovations began right away and continued through the winter. By the end of June 2007, the renovations were virtually complete, ahead of schedule and within the project budget of two million dollars.
An open house is being planned for early fall so that everyone who is interested may come and see the newly renovated facility.
    Gerry James is public works director for the city of Presque Isle. He can be reached at 764-2560.