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Caribou secures funding for new police station, Collins Pond repairs

CARIBOU, Maine — Caribou officials are one step closer to constructing a new police station and restoring native brook trout populations.

In late December, President Joseph Biden signed the 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Package, which includes Caribou native U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ request of $2.5 million for the police station and $4.5 million for the construction of a new dam and fishway at Collins Pond.

Lack of proper space for evidence processing, locked case files and weapons and structural issues have led city and police officials to believe that the current station, housed in the basement of city hall, no longer serves the department’s needs

In June, voters approved the city spending no more than $10 million on a new station, leading officials on a quest to find funds that will reduce the load on taxpayers.

The $2.5 million in congressional funds will go toward the design and construction of the future new station, which will include the first centralized jail facility in Aroostook. The nearest holding facility is Aroostook County Jail in Houlton.

“We appreciate the support of Sen. Collins to advance our progress for a much needed facility, not only for our officers but also the citizens of Caribou,” said Caribou Police Chief Michael Gahagan.

Collins visited the Caribou Police Department in October and noted that a modern facility will boost local public safety and help the department recruit and retain more officers.

The current station was built in 1939 and makes officers’ jobs unnecessarily more difficult, Collins said.

Collins has also put her support behind Caribou Parks & Recreation’s efforts to replace the more than 124-year-old Collins Pond Dam and construct a fishway to provide resting places for migrating brook trout.

When the dam still existed, brook trout traveled from the Aroostook River through Caribou Stream every spring during spawning season. But the fish have not been spotted in 30 years due to the deteriorating dam, which has left the stream’s water levels almost empty.

The $4.5 million in congressional funds will support most of the dam and fishway construction, with a remaining $60,000 in Parks & Recreation reserve accounts supporting the rest.

Parks & Recreation Superintendent Gary Marquis said that the project will make Collins Pond and Caribou Stream more ideal places for people to fish or enjoy the nearby walking and bike path.

CARIBOU, Maine — October 26, 2022 — Water levels at Caribou Stream have reached their lowest levels, prompting city officials to work towards restoring the historical dam and fishway. (Melissa Lizotte | Aroostook Republican)

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