FARMINGDALE — After high bids, a special town meeting and setbacks with financing, work on the Farmingdale fire station ceremonially began Wednesday.

 

Ground was broken Wednesday for the future station just north of Gosline’s Hardware, which is at 563 Maine Ave., though some actual work has started at the site. Crews from Augusta-based Peachey Builders — which was awarded the project based on a $1,349,176 proposal in March — already have brought truckloads of soil to the lot and done some preliminary site work.

Farmingdale Fire Chief Dana Mealey said the groundbreaking was a day he thought he would never see, even though he has served on the department for four decades.

“It’s been a long, long time coming,” he said. “It’s my 40th year on the department and it was on top of the list on the comprehensive plan 40 years ago.”

The road to the new station began in earnest in 2017, when voters approved up to $1 million in funding for a new station. That funding was never secured, however, because it was insufficient to cover the cost of bids received in September 2018. Those bids — all of which were rejected in October 2018 — ranged from $1,543,000 to $1,776,651. Selectman and engineers said skyrocketing material prices were to blame for the high bids.

Selectmen opened up a second set of bids from Maine-based contractors in February — all under the $1.7 million budget approved by residents in December 2018 — and Peachey Builders was awarded the project in March.

Financing for the building was finalized in January when selectmen accepted Kennebec Savings Bank’s loan offer, with a 4.29 percent interest rate. The town was looking to secure funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but a federal government shutdown complicated the process. The town could make annual payments of $126,759.48 or pay it down monthly to reduce total interest. Projections by the town staff showed there would be $835,189.60 in accrued interest over the 20-year term.

A rendering of the planned new Farmingdale fire station. Image provided by the town of Farmingdale

On April 3, selectmen approved paint colors for the station, which will be grayish-white, with dark red trim and accents.

Mealey said the department expects to move into the station in mid-October, based on a 180-day project deadline. Peachey Builders owner Gary Peachey said after the ceremony that his crews and subcontractors will have no problem meeting the six-month deadline.

The current station at 289 Maine Ave. is cramped — with the trucks having less than a foot of clearance between mirrors. The new fire station will be a three-bay, 80-foot-by-80-foot building.

Assistant Fire Chief Mike LaPlante said Lowe’s donated a microwave, a range and a refrigerator for use in the station. He said other furniture is being cobbled together from different sources, such as state surplus auctions.

 

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME

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