Knox County Commissioners voted Friday morning, May 20 to authorize the county administrator to enter into a purchase and sales agreement to expand the county’s law enforcement complex on upper Park Street.

The commissioners voted 2-0 (Commissioner Richard Parent Jr. absent) to authorize Andrew Hart to execute the agreement for $500,000 with RMA Properties at 301 Park St. This is the home office building for Village NetMedia, publisher of The Herald Gazette, The Republican Journal, The Bar Harbor Times and The Capital Weekly and VillageSoup.

The commissioners also voted to spend up to $5,000 to have architect John Hansen develop renovation estimates for 301 Park St. and to conduct wetland studies on the site.

Voters will have the final say with a referendum likely in November on spending money for the expansion.

The May 20 vote came after a 30-minute closed-door meeting.

The commissioners have held a series of closed-door meetings over the past several months to discuss the possibility of acquiring 301 Park St. to relocate the sheriff’s department, Knox County Regional Communications, and emergency management agency offices.

Commission Chairman Roger Moody said in January that expanding the communications center was one of his priorities for 2011.

The 301 Park St. property is assessed by the city at $498,300. The property includes 1.1 acres and the 8,304-square-foot building that was built in 1980.

The building was originally leased by the Maine Department of Labor. Courier Publications purchased it in 2002 and RMA purchased it in 2008.

Richard Anderson, owner and chief executive officer for Village NetMedia and VillageSoup, said the sale would be a perfect solution for the county’s need for more space at its law enforcement complex. The building is on adjacent land and is easily reconfigured to meet the county’s needs.

Anderson said, “I am excited by the possible sale as we would like to have at least the Rockland-based Herald Gazette reporters and sales staff located in the center of Rockland as they are in Camden, Belfast, Bar Harbor and Augusta.”