WINSLOW — A stalled construction project at the police station has generated many questions, but few answers.

During a town council meeting Monday, town employees, councilors and residents attempted to sort out the confusion and its financial impact. Then on Tuesday, more details emerged from the state Fire Marshal’s Office.

Answers to some of those questions may arrive as early as Friday during a meeting with the state fire marshal that could allow the project to restart.

In mid-July, Peachey Builders began constructing a one-story addition to the police station, which is located in the basement of the town office. The company had received a building permit from the town, but it hadn’t applied for a permit from the fire marshal’s office. As a result, the state shut down construction on Aug. 3, and the site has been idle since.

In the meantime, the town and the project’s architect applied for a permit, which was reviewed by Assistant Fire Marshal Rich McCarthy on Aug. 7. The following day, he mailed a list of questions to the town and the building’s architect. The three parties will meet Friday to discuss the questions, Town Manager Michael Heavener said.

“It would be nice to think we could walk away with a permit at that point, but we’ll have to wait and see,” Heavener said.

Questions are a typical part of the permit review process, McCarthy said by phone Tuesday.

“Plans get submitted and they are reviewed. Any questions that we might have on the plan are sent back to the architect for clarification,” he said. “Usually this is done prior to the start of construction.”

The fire marshal’s office issues permits for construction of public buildings. Before issuing a permit, the office reviews the architect’s plans for compliance with state building codes, the Life Safety Code and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Heavener said on Tuesday he didn’t know specifics of what was on the list of questions from McCarthy, but they likely dealt with the Life Safety Code and the Americans with Disabilities Act. For example, the plans might need to be revised to include a handicapped-accessible sink, he said.

Heavener said he wouldn’t know until Friday if questions from the fire marshal’s office will translate into significant costs.

The project was the subject of a 45-minute conversation Monday during the town council meeting.

The building’s addition will need a fire-suppression system, but it’s unclear whether the rest of the Town Office will need to be retrofitted to include the system as well. To be prepared for that potential outcome, the council voted unanimously to approve another $68,000 onto the project’s original $638,000 price tag.

Councilor Ken Fletcher asked Heavener how the project broke down. First, he wanted to know why the permit wasn’t sought from the fire marshal’s office. He cited paperwork in April in which Peachey Builders assessed an additional $5,000 fee to hire an architect to work with the fire marshal’s office to make sure the plans were up to code.

Heavener said the review did not happen, but the town wasn’t charged either.

Next, Fletcher asked about the expansion of the sprinkler system. He said the council decided earlier in the year that it wasn’t needed.

“How did we make that determination?” he asked.

Heavener said the town’s code enforcement officer told the council it wouldn’t be necessary.

Before the vote, several people from the audience spoke out in frustration.

Resident Paul Dunbar suggested the town knew the permit hadn’t been sought and failed to act.

“Why somebody would start a building without a fire marshal’s permit is beyond me,” Dunbar said. “I talked to several people in this room, sitting at that table, about this before the first shovel was dug: ‘Please, whatever you do, get it approved first.'”

Dunbar said the fire marshal might require costly updates, such as an elevator, for the town office to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Resident Todd Violette said costs for the sprinkler system should have been included in the original proposal because an experienced contractor, like Peachey Builder’s, should have assumed an expanded sprinkler system would be a likely outcome from the fire marshal’s office.

“This is common knowledge among contractors: If you take an old building and you make renovations to it, you need to bring it up to code,” he said.

On Tuesday, Peachey Builder’s president Gary Peachey acknowledged the error.

“It was a mistake. It wasn’t done with any intent or malice. We thought there was some dialogue between the architect and the fire marshal, and apparently there wasn’t. Things didn’t get submitted as we anticipated,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that we are where we are, but it was an honest mistake.”

Architect George Parker couldn’t be reached by phone Tuesday.

Fletcher said miscommunication is no excuse.

“I do not accept that. This project is a big project. We’re going to be spending close to three-quarters of a million dollars,” he said. “Do we have a credible contractor? We can’t keep having these exciting discoveries.”

McCarthy said his office has moved quickly to review the project.

“Because we understand the spot they’re in, we got it processed quickly,” he said.

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