Voters to decide on building plan

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RUMFORD – Selectmen on Tuesday held a second informational session on proposed changes to the Municipal Building and possibly the fire station. They showed three possible projects that would meet the requirements of the state fire marshal’s office.

Many of the arguments were the same Tuesday as they were at last week’s session – the project was moving way too fast, much of the work must be done to meet code, it’s less expensive to do the entire project now than to do it piecemeal, and other views for and against building an addition between the Municipal Building and fire station.

Residents will be asked at the annual town meeting Monday whether they want to raise $2.9 million, $1.8 million or $800,000, or perhaps some other amount for the project. Whatever figure is chosen will give the town permission to go to the state bond bank for funding.

The low figure would be the minimum needed to bring the Municipal Building up to State Fire Marshal’s Office and Occupational Safety and Health Administration codes. It would not address any of the code violations at the fire station, said architect Jim Reuter of Smith Reuter Lull of Bethel, nor would it allow for renovation or expansion of the Police Department.

That would include installing a fire alarm system, making bathrooms handicapped accessible, enclosing open entrances, building an exit stairway to serve all three floors, and dealing with lighting and electrical issues.

The middle figure would include all items needed to meet code, as well as allow some renovation to the Police Department, meet some of the code violations at the fire station, and construct a new lobby and entrance between the two buildings that would also house a combined police and fire dispatch center.

The highest amount would allow for an addition to the fire station that would house the department’s ladder truck and other equipment, and allow a major renovation to the Police Department that would include an addition onto the Municipal Building to allow a separate entrance for officers bringing in prisoners, as well as meet all codes.

Some suggested that the town work more toward a regional approach to the Fire Department, Police Department, or both.

“Can we do it better with regionalization?” Len Greaney asked.

Selectman Chairman Jim Thibodeau said studies have shown that regionalizing public safety is of no benefit to Rumford.

Fire Chief John Woulfe also said that a report compiled a few years ago recommended a long-term project of building a new station outside the downtown.

Matt Palmer, a member of the town’s Architectural Committee, which has been meeting to decide what steps to take once the fire marshal inspected the two buildings in January, said the $2.9 million figure was not a wish list but a need list.

“This is a project well worth the cost and long overdue. It’s a public gathering facility and this is the first time in years (anything has been done). I’m not in favor of a piece-meal policy,” he said.

Town Manager Steve Eldridge had estimated a tax hike of about $65 a year on a home valued at $100,000 for a 10-year loan for the $2.9 million.

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