Lewiston to purchase land for new fire station

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LEWISTON — The city is poised to enter into an option agreement to purchase 10 acres at 55 North Temple St. to build a fire substation.

Funding for the $3.3 million project is included in next year’s Capital Improvement Plan, and city officials have since been narrowing down a list of potential sites for the substation. 

A study last year recommended replacing the city’s fire substations on Lisbon Road and Sabattus and Main streets. The stations were built between 1950-52, and evaluations have shown the buildings to be “inadequate for today’s fire needs.” 

A memo to the City Council from City Administrator Ed Barrett said the current Sabattus Street station is on a “small parcel that is not large enough to support a new station, nor is it possible to easily and cost effectively expand this property.”

Barrett said the 55 North Temple St. parcel is recommended as the preferred location by an engineering consultant that looked at four site alternatives. 

He said the 10-acre property, which is near the intersection of North Temple and Sabattus Street, is relatively level and would require minimal infrastructure investments, including water, sewer and stormwater.

After talks with the property owner, the city completed an appraisal of the property, which put the market value at $290,000. The city had previously had the parcel assessed at $98,450. 

According to the city, the option price is $3,000, which will be credited to the purchase price at closing. 

The Planning Board was set to make a recommendation to the council regarding the property Monday. 

Last month, the Planning Board discussed the pros and cons of the four potential sites, which included parcels at 151 North Temple St., 118 to 124 Sabattus St. and 895 Sabattus St., the former site of a Jiffy Lube. 

But according to a previous city memo, the other sites presented a slew of issues. The city owns 151 North Temple St. but building there might require replacing a recreation field at a cost of $150,000 to $250,000 and building a retaining wall to minimize fill and wetland impact at $50,000.

At 118 to 124 Sabattus St., adding up to 2.05 acres and about $200,000, building there might trigger an additional $150,000 in traffic control work.

And at 895 Sabattus St., formerly a Jiffy Lube, building there would require $50,000 in traffic lights or warning signals and depending on how firetrucks enter and exit, potentially $220,000 of additional work.

The original study and report completed by WBRC Architects-Engineers, which outlined the recommendation that all fire department substations should be replaced, was presented to the City Council in February 2017. 

The original plan for the Sabattus Street project called for the design work to be completed in 2018, with construction in 2019. The plan from there was to “continue with the other two substations in two-year increments, one for design and one for construction.”

The City Council will vote on the option agreement for 55 North Temple St. at its meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14. 

The Sabbatus Street fire substation in Lewiston, which is scheduled to be replaced, may end up at 55 North Temple St., a 10-acre parcel near the intersection of North Temple and Sabattus streets. (Sun Journal file photo) 

A concept design for a new Lewiston Fire Department substation is included in a study that recommends the city replace all three of its substations in the coming years. (Sun Journal file image) 

Investigation update

LEWISTON — The City Council’s agenda for Tuesday night also includes an update from police officials on the continued investigation into the death of Donald Giusti in June following a violent altercation near Kennedy Park. 

According to the council memo, Lewiston Police Chief Brian O’Malley will “provide an overview of the enhanced policing efforts undertaken by his department and in conjunction with other public safety agencies in response to recent incidents in Lewiston.”

In addition, the Maine State Police will provide an update on their ongoing investigation into Giusti’s death, the memo said. 

Following the meeting, an executive session is scheduled for the council to enter into contract negotiations with Lewiston’s police union. The police contract expired June 30, and the two sides have failed to come to an agreement. In response, Lewiston patrol officers began wearing green police T-shirts as a form of protest. 

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