Fire station estimate down to $4.5M

MOUNT DESERT — The latest estimated construction cost for the expansion of the fire station in Northeast Harbor is $4.5 million. 

Early this year, the cost was estimated at between $5.1 and $6 million, but Fire Chief Mike Bender said recently that, as engineering and architectural plans became more complete, the cost had been expected to drop. 

He said the construction cost estimate does not include two EV stations, fitness equipment, appliances, furniture or audio-visual and IT hardware. 

“We are entering the home stretch in design development and are on schedule to finalize plans by the end of the year,” Bender said in a Nov. 11 memo to Town Manager Durlin Lunt. “The tentative date to send out bid packages is January 7, with a submittal deadline of February 7.”  

Funding for the project would have to be approved by voters at town meeting in May. 

“The design team has indicated that construction time for this project could be up to 14 months,” Bender said. “If allowed to start construction immediately after town meeting, that would place the completion date at around August of 2023. My recommendations would be to allow construction to start as soon as possible.” 

However, the town’s finance director, Jake Wright, said at Monday’s meeting of the Select Board that if voters approve funding in May, work on the fire station could not begin until July 1, which is the start of the new fiscal year. 

The fire department’s need for more space is being driven primarily by the continuing decline in the number of volunteer firefighters. Bender has said the transition from a force of mostly volunteers to mostly full-time, paid firefighters over the next few years means the town will need to provide on-site living quarters. 

Also, by Jan. 1, 2023, the fire department will take over the responsibilities of the Northeast Harbor Ambulance Service, so it will need space to accommodate EMS personnel and equipment, as well.  

Bender said the first floor of the fire station expansion will provide space for four fire/EMS vehicles, gear storage lockers, laundry room, tool room and two storage rooms. 

The second floor will have four bunkrooms with the capacity to sleep seven, a fitness room, a kitchen and dining area, dayroom, training room, two full bathrooms with showers, another restroom and a storage area.  

“The location and design of the training room will allow for the use of this area by town staff without disturbing [those in] the living quarters,” Bender said in his memo. 

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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