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Federal Funding Package to Help Upgrade Small Towns Like Greenville, Maine

Tue January 10, 2023 - Northeast Edition #2
Piscataquis Observer & WABI-TV

The town of Greenville is working to replace the existing fire station with a new public safety building on the Minden Street property. (Photo courtesy of Greenville Public Safety Building Committee)
The town of Greenville is working to replace the existing fire station with a new public safety building on the Minden Street property. (Photo courtesy of Greenville Public Safety Building Committee)

The omnibus funding package recently passed by Congress includes more than $308 million for nearly 200 projects across Maine, including a few in the town of Greenville in the state's Highlands Region.

Under federal appropriations bills, the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) will receive $16 million to rehabilitate Maine Route 15 from Abbot to Greenville, while more than $1.5 million will go to the Moosehead Caring for Kids Foundation to help the Greenville Little School House Childcare, Pre-K and Community Center, and another $902,000 will boost the Greenville Public Safety Building project.

"So good stuff for Greenville, excellent stuff," Town Manager Mike Roy said during a Select Board meeting on Jan. 4, according to the Piscataquis Observer.

Road, School Improvements Needed

Currently, the road conditions on Maine's Route 15 are rated poor to very poor by MaineDOT and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) metrics. The rehabilitation project will restore the 20-plus miles of road from Abbot to Greenville to a state of good repair, the news source noted.

The Moosehead Caring for Kids Foundation will receive $1,561,000 for its projects. The foundation is partnering with the town and Greenville Consolidated School to build a facility to house a childcare center, pre-K classrooms, and a community recreation center.

Roy said he would be meeting with Greenville School Superintendent Kelly MacFadyen and Moosehead Caring for Kids Foundation representatives to discuss the project, which will have its own committee.

Building to Combine Fire, Police Departments

If all goes to plan, construction on the new Greenville Public Safety Building will begin in March, Fire Chief Sawyer Murray told WABI-TV in Bangor.

It will house the fire and police departments together to help with current outdated spaces and building code violations. The project's building site is on Minden Street, across from the town office, and will include a community room for public use.

"We're hoping to build a building to have it set up for the future, and that's what we're going into it thinking," Murray added.

More than 20 firefighters make up the fire department. They are dedicated to serving not just the town of Greenville, but all surrounding communities as part of a Mutual Aid Agreement. It is customary for them to travel more than an hour to answer a call, according to Murray.

"We really only go about 15 minutes south to Monson, but when we go north, we go up to the Golden Road, and even north of [there to handle] log truck and snowmobile accidents," he said.

The department just wrapped up its busiest year on record — tripling its calls from 2017.

Over the past three years, the department has been developing plans for a new public safety building to replace the firefighters' outdated space, which has several issues, including no hot water, showers, and only one restroom. In addition, there is little lighting, and firefighting gear is often left exposed to diesel exhaust.

"Right now, our gear is behind two trucks, so if we start the trucks, the gear is soaking up all the exhaust," Murray explained to the Bangor news station. "That's going to be a huge thing to have an exhaust system [to] vent that out."

Police Now Squeezed Into Tight Space

Currently located across the street in the Greenville Town Office, the police department will be joining the firefighters in the new building.

Murray noted that the police will have the use of three indoor vehicle bays for the first time in the new facility.

"They park their vehicles outside, so they are always running them in the winter to keep them brushed off and such," he said.

Like the Greenville fire squad, the police department has received an uptick in calls in recent years, and Murray, a member of the police reserve, said the new public safety building's larger space should help its officers better conduct their work.

To illustrate the problem of having too little space, he told WABI-TV that one day last fall, the police arrested three people and brought them into the town office meeting hall to do interviews, but a Greenville Select Board meeting also was going on at the time. The officers tried to use the same room as the meeting before realizing their mistake.

"They gave us some funny looks and said we [could not] use that room," he said with a chuckle, adding that the suspects ended up being interviewed in different offices.

"It is going to be huge for Greenville to have a larger space," Murray noted. "This is one step in the right direction for emergency services that are getting busier, and, hopefully, we're going to be set up for the future when we have to answer more calls more frequently."

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