OAKLAND — The town’s facilities committee has begun the process of designing a new fire station after deciding the needs are too critical to allow simply renovating the current building.

At a Town Council meeting Wednesday evening, Chairman Mike Willey said the committee is hoping to put the new fire station on land farther north on Fairfield Street, adjacent to some residential homes and a Central Maine Power Co. hydrostation.

The committee is using the same planning model that it used to build the police station in 2016, which gives them a “road map” to make sure they do due diligence to all of the stakeholders involved, including the town and taxpayers, Willey said.

The committee decided that the fire station had the most critical need after the police station. It determined that the needs of the Fire Department had changed significantly since the structure was built in 1955.

Since then, the town’s population has nearly quadrupled, the number of structures in the town has tripled and the number of fire calls has nearly quadrupled.

The department also didn’t make rescue calls in 1955, but today it makes more than 600 annually.

The committee has toured three other new stations in Norridgewock, North Augusta and New Gloucester and learned what they did wrong, what they learned and how they went through their process.

They also surveyed the community and found a great deal of support, Willey said.

“The conversation we’ve had with the community has gone really well. The survey results were very, very positive,” he said. “Part of it, I think, was the success we had with the Police Department. We want to be diligent in being able to represent the taxpayers in this as well.”

The committee now is working on buying the lot on Fairfield Street. Messalonskee Hydro, which owns the property, has offered to donate it to the town, Willey said.

Then Brian Duffy, a consultant architect at Penelope Daborn Limited in Falmouth, will create a more detailed design that will help the committee do a cost analysis.

Willey expects they’ll be able to go to the Town Council with a recommendation by next spring. If it passes, construction could start in 2018 or 2019.

The council also presented Willey with a golden key to the town of Oakland.

“As some of you may know, Mike is jumping ship,” Chairman Michael Perkins said.

Willey, who has chaired the facilities committee and the gazebo committee, is moving to Minnesota to be closer to family.

“The town of Oakland will be forever in debt to you, for all your hard work, for all the energy you put into Oakland,” Perkins said. “This man cares about the town of Oakland.”

The council also voted, 5-0, to let Maine Water replace a water main at the intersection of Kennedy Memorial Drive and Main Street. The work should begin Oct. 2 and last for about three days or nights.

In November, residents will have the opportunity to vote on a name for the Oakland boat landing on Old Belgrade Road, which soon will have a new gazebo.

The three names voters will choose from are Harbor Memorial Park, Willey Point Park and Oakland Waterfront Park.

The gazebo committee voted to recommend Oakland Waterfront Park and the council voted to recommend Willey Point Park.

Gary Bennett, a local historian, spoke on behalf of Harbor Memorial Park, which is closest to the historical name of the area.

Madeline St. Amour – 861-9239

mstamour@centralmaine.com

Twitter:@madeline_violet