LIVERMORE FALLS — Voters at Tuesday’s special town meeting narrowly turned down an article asking for financing of up to $750,000 for a new fire station. The vote was 29 in favor and 31 against.
The rejection came despite pleas from Fire Chief Tim “TD” Hardy and the Board of Selectmen urging residents to approve the funding. There have been numerous structural deficiencies identified at the fire station, and the town’s insurance company has demanded that all vehicles be moved out as of Oct. 1.
“We need a direction tonight of where we can go,” Hardy said. “Regardless of where we go tonight, we’re out of the building Oct. 1 because of insurance.”
He said that this will affect response time for the Fire Department because trucks will be housed at other, more distant locations.
Resident Robert Jones reminded Hardy that it was up to the voters, not the Fire Department, to decide the type of fire station that would be feasible for the town.
“It’s not what you want, it’s what we can afford,” he said.
“All they want is a good, basic building that they can fit their trucks into,” Board of Selectmen Chairwoman Louise Chabot said. “They won’t be able to do that soon.”
Residents asked where the fire trucks will be located. Hardy said the Fire Department was still looking at different options, and there was no projected cost for alternate storage of vehicles and equipment.
Jones asked if the selectmen had seen a proposed new design for the fire station. Hardy said that there was a conceptual drawing similar to that of the Rangeley public safety building, but “we have not had a design of our own.”
Jones then asked if there was a site plan available with setbacks listed.
“That’s to be determined, also,” Chabot said.
Additionally, Jones asked what the demolition costs would be for the old building in order to construct a new one. Town Manager Kristal Flagg responded that it depends on what kind of a building the town gets.
It was estimated that the cost would be around $450,000 to renovate the existing building, Hardy said.
“We don’t believe the footprint we have there is going to be acceptable because of its closeness to the (railroad) tracks,” Chabot said. “We don’t know, also, if water’s gone underneath the building.”
Hardy said that regardless of whether the town rebuilds or renovates the existing building, the fire trucks will have to be relocated as of Oct. 1. He said the time line on renovation would be shorter.
In other action, citizens approved 35-23 to withdraw $100,000 from the General Fund’s Fund Balance Account to lower the 2015/16 tax commitment.
“Is there a plan to cover this $100,000 that we’ll be short next year?” resident Scott Roberts asked.
“We can’t say for sure what will happen next year,” Chabot said. “We take each year as it comes.”