By Genevieve Reilly

greilly@ctpost.com

Former Fairfield Police Chief Joseph Sambrook remembers when he served with the department's marine unit. Where the unit's building now stands at the South Benson Marina was, he recalled, a bait shop.

"Back then, when it rained, or there was inclement weather, we had to stay on the boat," Sambrook said Monday morning as town and police officials cut the ribbon on the new two-story building, and unveiled a plaque listing all the local residents and businesses that donated money, time or materials to the facility's construction. About 90 percent of the $180,000 price tag to construct the marine headquarters was covered by donations.

Those many years ago, Sambrook added, he approached then-First Selectman John J. Sullivan about arranging for police to use the bait shop. His appeal worked, and Sambrook said he came up with the idea of adding a second floor, an idea that never came to fruition until about two years ago when Officer Grant Dalling, a marine unit officer and his childhood friend and local builder Thomas Kane, revived the idea.

"One rainy Saturday two years ago (Kane) came to the marina to visit," Dalling said. The roof was leaking and Kane said he would fix it. A a few hours later, Dalling said, that plan expanded to include putting up a whole new building.

As a kid, Kane said, the marina was like his backyard. "I use this marina a lot," he said. "I do a lot of fishing."

More than 30 names are listed on the plaque that hangs on the side of the building, next to the entrance for the second-floor marine unit headquarters.

"You can see this was a long time coming," Police Chief Gary MacNamara said.