KITTERY, Maine — The town's Gorges Road Fire Station will be expanded as part of a now $1.5 million project, nearly double the original cost estimate.
The Town Council agreed Monday to fund the project, originally estimated to cost $800,000 when approved by voters in a warrant article last year, that will expand the station to include bays, office and bunk space to support the town’s fire department and ambulance service.
Kittery voters in June 2021 passed a warrant article approving $800,000 from the town’s unassigned fund balance to be transferred and used for the expansion of the station. The warrant article further called for the sale of the town’s Walker Street Fire Station, the proceeds of which would then be allocated toward the town’s unassigned fund balance and used for the Gorges Road station expansion.
Though the sale of the Walker Street station is for around $850,000 after fees, the funding fell well short of a new project cost estimate of $1,583,058 from Port One Architects, which has assisted the Kittery Fire Department with the expansion.
“Obviously we’ve seen cost inflations for just about everything,” Town Manager Kendra Amaral said to the Town Council Monday night.
Outlined by Amaral in the previous Town Council meeting this month, town staff recommended using the proceeds from past sales of town-acquired real estate toward the project.
To cover the approximately $700,000 shortfall, the town recommended using proceeds from two Foreside building sales: the Taylor Building at 2 Walker St. and 3 Walker St., formerly owned by bus depot owner James Dineen.
Sold for $558,700 to the Kittery Art Association in February, the Taylor Building, constructed in 1965 as a courthouse, was previously used by the Rice Public Library. The building was sold by the town to the Kittery Art Association this winter toward the completion of a $6.1 million library expansion project, which enlarged the main library building to 15,500 total square feet.
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The sale of 3 Walker St., located behind a municipal lot near the Juicery in downtown Kittery, was for $384,714.
Amaral wrote in a report to the Town Council the fire station project has been delayed amid the coronavirus pandemic but remains “highly relevant.”
“This project was put forward to achieve the beneficial service outcomes of having the ambulance service out of the Foreside and co-located with the Fire Department on the (Rt.) 1 Bypass,” her report reads.
The Town Council unanimously supported the allocation of $700,000 from the town’s real estate transactions reserve to pay for the remainder of the project.
“It just improves response times, it’s a better location for it and it makes more sense for our future plans,” said Amaral about the station expansion.
Located at 3 Gorges Road, the town’s existing central fire station was built in 2005.
This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Kittery ME agrees to $1.5M Gorges Road Fire Station expansion