FARMINGDALE — Town officials told the Kennebec Journal that Farmingdale’s new $1.36 million fire station is something the entire town should be proud of ahead of an open house this weekend.

The station at 571 Maine Ave. will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

“It really came out nice,” Town Clerk Rose Webster said. “It’s not overly done, but it’s nice in there.”

The department moved into the building in December, but finishing touches were being added this month. Assistant Fire Chief Mike Laplante said the new station is much easier to move around in than the previous station that was crammed into a couple of rooms at the town’s municipal building at 298 Maine Ave.

This photo, taken Thursday, shows new fire station in Farmingdale. c Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

One of the biggest additions are groups of racks for the firefighter’s gear, which previously had to be stored by the individual firefighters, usually in their vehicle. The material from fighting fires remaining on gear can be hazardous to a firefighter’s health, giving the racks additional benefits other than saving time on response time.

Laplante also said it was easier to get out of the station than it was in the previous station. Traffic would have to be stopped on Maine Avenue to get in and out of the old station, and the department’s two trucks were parked less than a foot from each other.

“Our gear is there now, which makes it convenient,” Laplante said. “(There’s) plenty of room to get in, get dressed and get out the door without (potential) damage.”

Selectman Wayne Kilgore has been overseeing the project since it began in 2017. When asked Thursday how it felt now that it was finally winding down, he exhaled theatrically and laughed. He said residents have been especially happy with the digital sign out front, which warns residents of weather conditions and displays important upcoming dates.

This photo, taken Thursday, shows new fire station in Farmingdale. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

Kilgore said everyone — from town office workers working on finances, to the firefighters working on the building, to the contractors putting the building together and to the residents who funded it — should be proud of the station.

“Everybody contributed, everyone get involved,” he said. “People are starting to come around and say: ‘That new fire station looks pretty good.'”

The Farmingdale department has 19 firefighters, according to its online roster, serving a town with a population recorded at 2,911 in 2017.

The road to the new station began when voters approved up to $1 million in funding for a new station in 2017. That funding was never secured because it was insufficient to cover the cost of bids received in September 2018. A special town meeting saw a new $1.7 million budget approved by residents in December 2018.

Financing was finalized in January 2019 when officials selected Kennebec Savings Bank’s loan offer, with a 4.29% interest rate. Payments are estimated at $126,759, but the town could also pay the balance down monthly to reduce total interest. Projections by the town staff showed there would be $835,189 in accrued interest over the 20-year term.

Selectmen opened up a new set of bids from Maine-based contractors in February and Peachey Builders was awarded the project in March based on a $1,349,176 proposal in March. The ground was broken on the project in April. In October, Webster said the project cost, due to various change orders, increased to $1,361,425, a change of less than 1%. She said Thursday that the number is higher than that, but she hasn’t gotten all of the bills together to know the final cost.

The town would incur additional costs for engineering and other work, but Webster did not think the town would spend the entire $1.7 million from the loan on the project. Kilgore said the cost of the land, razing the building on the land and construction of the new station will all likely fit within the $1.7 million bond.

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