HALLOWELL — The city has begun accepting proposals from firms interested in designing and building the city’s new fire station, the next step in Hallowell’s rapid plans to construct a replacement for the 186-year-old Second Street station house.

The deadline for proposals is June 7, according to the documents posted on the city’s website.

The new station will be built using up to $1 million in funds given to the city by an anonymous donor. Last month, the city announced an agreement with Stevens Commons developer Matt Morrill to build the station where the campus’s Falwell Building now stands, behind the Stevens Building on Coos Lane.

According to the city’s request, the plans call for construction of an approximately 5,000- to 6,000-square-foot station on city-owned land at Stevens Commons. Use of Hallowell granite is a welcomed design feature, the proposal states.

The timeline included in the document states that firm interviews will take place June 12-13, with the winning proposal and award letter issued June 14. Officials hope construction will begin by Aug. 8 and will be “substantially completed” by April 1, 2018, and “fully completed to city specifications” by June 30, 2018.

City Manager Nate Rudy said the city considered several approaches to designing and building the station, but after consultation with Morrill, the city attorney and other experts, he decided to issue the request for firms that can design and construct the station.

“We will accept and review proposals from qualified firms, interview the best-fit candidates and select a firm to provide some architectural designs for council to consider before the actual construction project is started,” Rudy said by email. “We feel this will help to ensure a high-quality, well-constructed product.”

The project, Rudy said, needs to be done at the “strident pace” to meet the donor’s eagerness to see the project started and to meet the city’s goal of relocating the Fire Department from its current station on Second Street to the new location before the Water Street reconstruction project begins in April.

In late March, an anonymous donor pledged up to $1 million for a new fire station, but the gift was contingent on the station being built at Stevens Commons. There were additional conditions attached to the donation, including an April 20 deadline to reach an agreement with Morrill. The next deadline — June 20 — is for the city to be under contract with a builder to construct the station.

Fire Chief Jim Owens said he’s eager to move the department into its new home.

“Our 186-year-old building has historic appeal but does not fit the needs of a modern fire department,” Owens said. He cited the height of the doors, the weight restrictions on the floor and lack of other modern amenities as the station’s biggest drawbacks.

Owens said he expects to be involved in the design process by meeting with architects and discussing what specific items are needed to accomplish the department’s goal of increasing its level of services to the citizens of Hallowell.

“The design of the new station should include training and administrative space, which will include space for community functions, blood drives, art displays, community suppers and breakfasts and flea markets,” the chief said. “The members (of the department) are excited about increasing our level of contact with the public, and we will open our new home to all and be gracious hosts.”

Hallowell’s Fire Department and its fire services future have been under the microscope over the past 14 months. The Fire Services Committee spent more than a year researching what the best option would be moving forward and made a recommendation to the council to contract for fire services with the Augusta Fire Department. However, the council unanimously voted instead to lease space in an unbuilt station in Farmingdale.

A petition circulated by Hallowell resident and Augusta city attorney Stephen Langsdorf called the council’s decision into question and forced councilors to re-examine their choice. The choice to rescind the Farmingdale decision was an easy one after the anonymous pledge was announced.

Former Hallowell Fire Chief Mike Grant last year proposed building a fire station next to the Erskine Building in the center of the Stevens Commons campus. That proposal was part of a multi-phase plan that would have turned the Erskine Building into a public safety facility and community center.

Grant thought it was important to keep a fire department within the city limits, and over time, there was more and more public support for Hallowell having its own department.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ