LIVERMORE FALLS — The costs of an architect’s options for fixing structural problems at the Fire Station range from $1.09 million to $1.49 million.

Despite the expense, residents, firefighters and town officials alike agreed at Tuesday’s selectmen meeting that it has to be repaired and time is of the essence.

Fire Chief Ed Hastings said he had met individually with most of the town’s firefighters, asking them what they wanted to see happen with the fire station.

“All of them just want to be back in the fire station, whatever that action is,” he said. “I realize it’s a lot of money. From the firefighters’ perspective, the fastest option to get back in the building is what they want.”

Architect George Parker of Lincoln/Haney Engineering Associates had put together three options for fixing the fire station’s deficiencies, which he presented at the meeting.

The first option involved bringing the building up to code, including a new wheelchair-accessible bathroom, new roof, new insulation and a new storage room. The total cost, including construction, design fees and contingency, was estimated at $1.09 million.

The second would provide expanded bays for the firetrucks in addition to the work included in the first option. The total cost was estimated at $1.34 million.

The third option would expand the office space and add a new room for the boiler. The total cost was estimated at $1.49 million.

Those options will go to voters, tentatively on June 7.

Parker noted that he was working within a budget of $33,000, which townspeople had approved, to come up with the designs.

“We’re still under the price we’ve given you and you’re going to get three schemes out of it,” he said.

Chairwoman Louise Chabot said if additional funds were available, the board should go ahead and get a cost estimate for a new building on the current site.

Parker suggested putting up a pre-engineered building “instead of a block and brick building.” He said a pre-engineered structure would cost less and take less time to build.

“We’re looking at big bucks here,” said resident Robert Jones.

He asked about the cost just to fix the building’s deficiencies and leave the inside and outside as is.

Hastings said he had contacted the state fire marshal’s office and found out that anytime more than $75,000 is spent for repairs to a public building, that facility must be completely brought up to federal disabilities and fire protection codes.

“It’s all going to come down to what townspeople think they can afford,” Parker said.

Resident George Cummings asked if it would be possible to only address problems with roof leaks.

“It’s a cheap way to do it, but the town hasn’t got the money,” he said.

Parker pointed out that the current roof is not adequate for a typical winter’s snow load, and it has inadequate insulation.

Chabot said she felt it was important that firefighters have a shower in the building and a nice working space. She asked the board if they wished to spend, within the $33,000 design budget that had been allotted, $7,000 to have Parker do a study of a new building and the cost. Parker noted that he’d spent around $20,000 so far of the design budget.

“It just concerns me that if we do the bare minimum here, we are not really fixing the fire station the way it should be,” said Selectman Jeffrey Bryant. “I’d like to see something new on that same footprint.”

Selectmen approved a motion to have Parker do a drawing and cost estimate for a new, pre-engineered building at $7,000 within the current design budget.

“We’re taxpayers, too,” Chabot said. “I don’t want to see my taxes go up as much as anyone else.”

However, she said, she sympathized with the firefighters.

“I’d like to see a nice building our firefighters can be proud of,” she said.

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Livermore Falls selectmen have set a special meeting to review the fire station design and cost options at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 24. A tentative date of June 7 was set for a special town meeting for townspeople to vote on which option they want for the fire station.


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