Port City Architecture in Portland designed a new Central Fire Station for Rumford at Falmouth Street and Essex Avenue. Voters Tuesday decided to fund the project. Submitted photo

RUMFORD — Voters on Tuesday approved taking a $5.4 million bond and accepting $1 million from the federal government to build a new Central Fire Station in the Falmouth Street area.

When the 162 voters raised their orange cards to be counted on the bond article, Moderator Jeff Sterling said there was no need for a count because it was obvious it passed.

The second article to accept the $1 million was unanimously approved during the hourlong special town meeting in Muskie Auditorium at Mountain Valley High School. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins has earmarked the money through the Appropriations Committee, of which she’s a member.

The Central Fire Station on Congress Street, which was built in 1924, has cracks throughout because the floor cannot hold the weight of the five fire engines and two trailers. The floor was reinforced in 1991, but the cracks have continued to spread, officials said.

It has three bays, seven double bedrooms, a kitchen, bathrooms, supply rooms, a janitor’s closet and a training room.

Before the voting, two residents were concerned about deciding the issue at a special town meeting.

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Joe Martin said he wanted to see it taken to the annual town meeting in June, “instead of ramming it down our throats. We need the town’s full participation on this.”

James Windover also wanted the vote at another time and asked why the vote was not done at the November referendum.

Chris Brennick, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said officials were not set on the final estimate of the new fire station until December.

Tracy Parise, co-owner of Port to Port on Waldo Street, noted there were far more people present at Tuesday’s meeting than the annual business meeting last June.

Town Manager Stacy Carter said town officials have realized the need for a new fire station since the 1990s, but have been unsuccessful in all three attempts to obtain funding.

Twice, townspeople turned down requests, and on the third try in 2009, the town was awarded a $3 million grant, but that funding never came through.

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“The time is now to move forward with a new fire station for the town of Rumford. We’re at a better position than we have been in the past,” Carter said.

Carter said previously that if the federal budget gets approved prior to going out to bond or closing on the bond, and the town gets the $1 million, “we’ll be able to reduce that to $4.4 million. We don’t want to borrow anymore than we absolutely have to.”

He also advised there is $1.38 million from a tax increment financing agreement on the power plant that  is going toward the fire station.

Carter cited the possibility of rising interest rates and inflation this year.

“By doing it now, we feel we’re going to get the best interest rates,” he said. “Generally, the interest rates from the bond bank are low, compared to other bank financing. We know that the Federal Reserve is looking at three or four interest rate increases this year. So delaying it for the fall bond application period, we can expect we’d have higher interest rates.

“We also looked at how the inflation rate has been rising over the last year, and by starting on this as soon as possible, we’ll be able to save on the inflation rate,” he said.

The new station is 13,328 square feet, compared to 12,928 square feet in the current station and building behind it that houses a ladder truck.

The new station is designed with four large bays and one small one, 10 single-bunk rooms, a kitchen, a day room, bathrooms for men and women, and a decontamination room for firefighters to remove hazardous materials, Fire Chief Chris Reed said.

The site was chosen over several town properties because it can accommodate the station and parking lot, and it’s central to where the department gets most calls, Carter said previously.


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