Ambulance service pays for fire station renovation plans 

MOUNT DESERT — The Northeast Harbor Ambulance Service has offered to pay up to $30,000 for concept plans for the renovation of the fire station in Somesville to provide living quarters for firefighters and EMS personnel. 

Fire Chief Mike Bender has hired Fraser Associates Architects of Bar Harbor to do that work. 

The ambulance service is to be folded into the town’s fire department by the end of next year. Bender and ambulance service officials have said there needs to be a stronger, around-the-clock presence of firefighters and EMS personnel in both Northeast Harbor and Somesville. 

Voters at last week’s Town Meeting authorized the town to spend up to $357,500 for engineering and design services for a proposed expansion of the Northeast Harbor fire station. Town officials expect to have construction costs and a final design for that project to present for voter approval at next year’s Town Meeting.  

They had also considered holding a special town meeting in November on the question of funding design services for the Somesville fire station renovation and then presenting that project’s cost and final design for voter approval next spring. 

But now that planning for the Somesville project can go ahead with ambulance service funds, Bender said a special town meeting could possibly be held in November to ask voters to approve funding for the actual renovation. 

That would put Somesville a little bit ahead of Northeast Harbor, but nothing is written in stone at this point,” Bender said. 

He said far less money is needed for planning the Somesville project than voters approved for engineering and design services for the Northeast Harbor project because the Somesville project is much less extensive. 

“We’re not adding on; we’re not putting on another story; we’re not doing anything to the footprint of the building,” Bender said. “We’re just renovating the inside, so it’s a much simpler project. 

Asked why the Northeast Harbor Ambulance Service is paying for concept plans for renovation of the Somesville station, board President Scamp Gray said, “The ambulance service has wanted to put an ambulance in Somesville for a long time; we talked about it 20 years ago. The problem was we didn’t have the personnel there to do it.  

“Even 20 years ago, the western part of town – Somesville, Hall Quarry and Pretty Marsh – was starting to get built up, and now it’s much more built up. We’ve wanted to be able to cover that area better but haven’t been able to.  

“But now, if the town does renovate the Somesville station and put an ambulance there, it will make a big difference in (EMS) coverage for people who live on the western side of the town,” Gray said. “That’s why we are hoping to help move things along in that direction.”  

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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