MOUNT DESERT — The Planning Board last Wednesday granted a conditional use permit for a proposed addition to the fire station in Northeast Harbor.
“Now, we’re moving into the phase where the design team will start drafting the actual construction documents,” Fire Chief Mike Bender said.
At this year’s town meeting, in May, voters authorized spending up to $357,500 for engineering and other professional services related to designing the expansion of the fire station to house fire and EMS personnel and equipment.
Next spring, voters will be asked to approve funding for construction. Earlier this year, the construction cost was estimated at $5.1-$6 million. Bender said he will be getting an updated cost estimate around the end of this month.
“As we narrow the details down, the cost estimate starts getting a little more accurate,” he said. “The design team has indicated the estimate may go down some.”
The fire department’s need for more space is being driven primarily by the continuing decline in the number of volunteer firefighters. 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, Bender said.
And by Jan. 1, 2023, the fire department will take over the responsibilities of the Northeast Harbor Ambulance Service, which has similar space and personnel needs.