HALLOWELL — The City Council signed a contract with a general contractor to design and build the city’s new fire station for $1 million, the maximum amount pledged by an anonymous donor to fund construction of the station at Stevens Commons.

According to the agreement between the city and Bruce Laukka Inc., construction will cost $922,230, while the two design phases will cost $45,790, and $31,980, respectively. City Manager Nate Rudy said the goal all along was for the entire project to stay under the $1 million amount — as stipulated by the anonymous donor — and this plan from the general contractor leaves no wiggle room.

“It’s firm,” Mayor Mark Walker said by phone Tuesday. “(The contractor) knew that was their cap, and I think they’re aware we’re not going to go over it.”

Walker said the city hasn’t built any contingency into the budget in the event the cost climbs over $1 million, and he said the contractor would have to get city approval before proceeding if that happened.

When the anonymous donation was announced in March, the mayor said he wanted the fire station built and the city’s Fire Department relocated from its current Second Street home before the Water Street reconstruction project begins next April. That means everybody involved in the project is working on an aggressive time line to ensure the work is done in time.

Walker said architect Rosie Curtis has been instrumental in making sure the city knows exactly what it needs to do, and when, to stay on schedule.

“She’s been very aggressive and very helpful,” Walker said.

During last week’s council meeting, Curtis said the team needs to move expeditiously in order to break ground Sept. 18.

The contract lists several milestone dates for the design and construction project. Aug. 7 is the expected date for submission of floor plans, a 3-D rendering, a concept site plan and a conceptual cost estimate. On Sept. 8, permits will be submitted for Planning Board review and 50 percent of the construction drawings will be completed.

The contractor set a target date of April 1, 2018, for the truck bay and paving to be complete so that it can be used by fire engines, and set June 30, 2018, as the date of substantial completion.

The 5,000- to 6,000-square-foot fire station will be built at the top of the Stevens Commons campus where the Farwell Building now stands. Stevens Commons owner Matt Morrill donated the 0.67-acre parcel of land to the city, and the city will pay for the building’s demolition. Rudy said he has received estimates of around $20,000 for that work.

The city manager said he’s been having meetings with Curtis, project manager Peter Walker, Fire Chief Jim Owens and others to discuss the design of the building. The city will have to prioritize what it needs to have in the building, as opposed to what it would like to have.

“We have to decide what’s a must-have, what’s a ‘would be nice to have’ and what are some things we’d like but don’t need,” Rudy said last month. Hallowell has a volunteer Fire Department, so there are some things a full-time department needs that the Hallowell department can do without, such as living quarters, which would keep the cost down, he said.

Owens said the city’s current station has historic appeal but lacks the conveniences needed by a modern department. He cited the height of the doors, the weight restrictions on the floor and lack of other amenities as the station’s biggest drawbacks.

“The new station should include training and administrative space, which will include space for community functions, blood drives, art displays (and more),” Owens said.

Hallowell’s Fire Department and its fire services future have been under the microscope over the past 15 months. The Fire Services Committee spent more than a year researching what the best option would be 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. Faced with local resistance and offered the aforementioned money from the anonymous donor, the council later reversed that decision and opted instead to build a station.

Walker said the city has been fortunate to receive the two donations for the Fire Department. The increase in participation in the volunteer department, he said, means the firefighters will be able to do more in the community and will be seen at more events and helping more throughout the year.

“It’s wonderful to see the growth in the department, the morale and the energy,” the mayor said. “This is a great story, and the fact that we had this million-dollar donation totally turned around the expectations.”

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

jpafundi@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ