NORRIDGEWOCK — The town is moving forward with plans to build a new fire station.
The board of selectmen recently signed a preliminary sales agreement to buy property at 22 Main St. that would be the site of the station, said Town Manager Michelle Flewelling.
“We’ve been looking for and discussing the construction of a new fire station for many years,” Flewelling said. “The current building is not large enough and they’ve run out of space to store equipment.”
The fire department has been saving money for about 25 years and has roughly $467,000 saved to put toward the construction of the new fire station, said Fire Chief Dave Jones. The current fire station, at 70 Main St., has been in use since 1960 but the fire department is running out of space, he said.
“This is something we’ve been working on for awhile. It’s getting cramped and is outdated. It’s time,” said Jones.
Now, the department has trucks stacked behind each other in the station, which can slow down response time if one of the trucks parked in front doesn’t start, he said. There is also not adequate space to move and stack equipment around the trucks, so a lot of that work has to be done outside, he said. New equipment that the department has purchased is bigger and doesn’t fit in the space, he said.
The purchase of the property will have to be approved by voters at the annual town meeting in March before the sale becomes final.
The town does have building plans for a new station that were designed in 2009 but the building was never constructed because the town did not receive a grant they applied for and did not have the funds at the time, said Jones.
There was also objection to the proposed site at the time, which would have been on town-owned property located between Route 2 and Wilder Hill Road, because some residents felt it was too far from the center of town, said Flewelling. The new site is located a few thousand feet from the current station in the downtown area.
Funding for the new station would come from the town’s reserve account, which had a balance of $465,841 at the end of December, said Flewelling.
The estimated cost of the new station was about $800,000 in 2009, she said, and town officials believe the cost of building a station now is close to that. Officials plan to cover most of the total cost by combining the money in the town reserve account and fire department savings.
There would also need to be some redesign of the existing plans and the property will need to be checked for environmental hazards before demolition of the house that is on the property can take place.
Construction on the new station could start in the spring of 2015, said Jones.
“It’s not like we just woke up this morning with the idea to build a new fire station,” he said. “It’s something we’ve been planning for and know is going to happen.”
Rachel Ohm— 612-2368 firstname.lastname@example.org