HALLOWELL — The City Properties Planning Group plans to meet for the third time Thursday to continue its discussion on the future of the historic Second Street fire station and public works garage.

The meeting is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. in the City Hall auditorium. It was postponed last Thursday because of a nor’easter that brought more than a foot of snow to central Maine.

“They’re going to discuss the findings from the first two meetings,” City Manager Nate Rudy said. “This meeting is going to be about reviewing and weighing the merits and costs of the different proposals.”

One of the more popular ideas was to relocate the Police Department to the current firehouse, which will be vacated soon when the Fire Department moves to its new station at Stevens Commons in early April. There is a cost associated with moving the police, but Chief Eric Nason said his current home in the basement of City Hall isn’t fit for a modern, albeit small department.

Public Works foreman Chris Buck said his department needs a new garage and a separate covered building for sand and salt. He would like seven or eight vehicle bays with an inside washing area for the winter, an office, a break room, a shower and a space to perform equipment maintenance.

Mayor Mark Walker created the property planning committee — which includes councilors Michael Frett, Maureen Aucoin and Diano Circo — to look at the best uses of city-owned properly, and the mayor made finding the best future use of the 190-year-old firehouse on Second Street and the public works garage a high priority. Rudy said the goal is for the group to make a recommendation to the City Council at the council’s April meeting about what to do with the two structures.


The fire station, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is not suitable for a modern fire department, city officials have said. The new $2 million station will be over 5,000 square feet and will include a chief’s office and conference space. It’s being paid for by an anonymous donor who initially pledged $1 million for construction costs and has increased the donation amount since then. The city will be responsible for the station’s yearly maintenance, and Fire Chief Jim Owens has said the firefighters will help maintain the station in any way they can.

Rudy said the existing 5,600-square-foot public works building presents operational challenges for that department, and he said the city is looking at solutions that include enhancing the current space or building a new space.

The city can borrow up to $250,000 without voter approval, but Buck has estimated a new building for his department would cost at least $500,000. Rudy said a proposal that the city make that additional investment is something that calls for a lot of discussion in the community.

Rudy said nobody on the committee is talking about securing bonds yet, and if that happens, the committee would have to make a request through the Property Committee, and then it would go to the City Council.

At previous meetings, committee members expressed an attachment to the historical significance of the fire station and the public works garage and what the firehouse has meant to the city since its construction. But the firehouse needs additional repairs and is too costly for the city to continue to maintain for its current use. The public works building is in a visible part of the city — the north end of Water Street — and on a fast-moving thoroughfare, which presents a challenge when the department tries to move equipment.

The committee is scheduled to meet once more next week, when it will draft the recommendations for the council. Rudy said it’s possible the committee will delay the final meeting a week since the April 9 council meeting is more than three weeks away.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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