Study says Lewiston fire department substations should be replaced

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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. 

LEWISTON — A study that reviewed all four Lewiston Fire Department stations is recommending the three substations be replaced.

After that, a new Central Fire Station could follow. 

The study and report completed by WBRC Architects-Engineers will be presented during a City Council workshop at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

The start of the extensive work needed to upgrade the department’s facilities appears on the city’s proposed five-year Capital Improvement Plan, which could receive final approval next week. 

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“In simplest terms, all of our fire substations are old, small, on small lots, and inadequate to many of today’s needs and requirements,” City Administrator Ed Barrett said Monday. 

Each station will cost about $3.6 million to replace, according to the study. But, that would happen over time. 

Barrett said projects to replace the stations — on Lisbon Road, and Sabattus and Main streets — will take place over a number of years, starting with the Sabattus Street substation. The city is proposing to do the engineering and design work in 2018, with construction in 2019. 

He said that while there are issues with Lewiston’s Central Fire Station, “it is currently our lowest priority.” An analysis and concept designs for a new Central Fire Station, on College Street, are also included in the study, however. A new Central Fire Station would cost roughly $11.6 million, the study says. 

Barrett said following the Sabattus Street replacement, “we will then continue with the other two substations in two-year increments, one for design and one for construction.”

Due to the cost of the stations, Barrett said, “the actual timing will be continually reviewed throughout this period as this need is weighed against others and our financial situation.”

Lewiston Fire Chief Paul LeClair said Monday that representatives from WBRC will be on hand Tuesday to present the study findings. The study did a cost analysis, comparing the price to repair and renovate the structures to completely replacing them. 

The study said replacing the structures is more economically feasible than making renovations.

Now, LeClair said, “It’s a matter of building into the capital schedule when that replacement will occur,” referring to the city’s five-year capital improvement plan cycle.

The study includes a description and in-depth assessment of each station. The three-story Central Station, the newest of the four, was built in 1972. The three substations were built from 1950-52. 

The former fire department substation on Lincoln Street was closed in 1996, and will soon be demolished

Council to look at student housing regulations 

LEWISTON — The City Council may decide to take a hard look at lodging houses in the Bates College area, as code enforcement staff says more single-family dwellings are accommodating students.

Councilor Jim Lysen said he has received a number of complaints from residents, specifically in the area of Davis and White streets. 

In a memo to the council, City Planner David Hediger said the concerns involve “the number of students living in dwelling units and the adverse impact this creates, such as noise, overcrowding, increased parking demand, etc.”

The City Council is being asked to consider a moratorium on lodging houses, which Hediger said would provide time to investigate and prepare amendments to various sections of the city’s code.

“There is a concern that current provisions may not be protecting the residential character of certain neighborhoods or protecting against unhealthy or unsafe conditions,” he said. 

He said that while this activity has occurred for many years in neighborhoods around Bates College, it appears more single-family dwellings are accommodating students. 

According to Hediger’s memo, the city will allow the conversion of structures with a dwelling(s) into a lodging house, as long as zoning, parking and building code requirements are met.

He said Lewiston Fire Prevention regulates one- and two-family dwellings as lodging houses if each dwelling unit is occupied by members of a single family and more than three outsiders, at which time a sprinkler and alarm system is required.

If zoning and fire codes can be met, the applicant must also apply for a lodging license from the city. He said this is resulting in homes being converted into lodging houses for Bates students.

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