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Fire Station Construction Updated for FinCom

Town Manager Mark Haddad, members of the Center Fire Station Building Committee and architects from Dore & Whittier met with the Finance Committee to advise them of the status of the construction project as it gets closer to final bids in preparation for the January Special Town Meeting and an article on that warrant to fund the estimated $7.6M cost.

The expectation of Haddad and the architects is that actual construction cost for the 18,780 sq. ft. building will come in at around $5.9M. An additional $300K has been set aside for construction contingency. There is also another $1.4M in 'soft costs' that includes payment for architects, $150K for state required project manager; furniture including exercise equipment for the training room, permitting and testing, for a total of $7.6M. This amount does not include cost of the already purchased land at $350K and cost of a Clerk of the Works at $150K which brings total cost to the town to $8.1M.

Finance Committee Chairman Jay Prager asked what the yearly maintenance cost for the new building would be. Town Accountant Valerie Jenkins replied that it would be close to $50K per year, based on heat for the new building, possible increase in hours for custodians. "It will be more than we are spending now on the existing Center Fire Station and the Fire Department's share of the Public Safety Building space that they currently occupy.

FinCom member Mike Flynn questioned cost for deactivation of the existing fire station building on Station Avenue, and Haddad replied that the plan is for the town to sell the structure. Colleague Bob Hargraves wanted to know if there was a management plan that covered operation and use of the three fire stations, and Haddad replied that management of those departments was not changing. The two sites, one at the Public Safety Building and the other at the Center Fire Station would be consolidated into a single location and that is the only change. Fire Chief Joe Bosselait said that the new center station will serve as the hub, with Lost Lake and West Groton serving as active substations.

Hargraves asked what the two substations will be used for and the Chief replied that there would be no change from their current use. "It will be status quo for Lost Lake and West Groton," he said.

Member Peter Defranco wanted to know what the cost per square foot for the building would be. Haddad said the estimate is $319 per sq. ft. for the building and $415 per sq. ft. with soft costs added in.

If the article to fund construction of the new station passes at Special Town Meeting, the town will have 30 business days to award the bids, with a goal of breaking ground in March.

"If the bid comes in over the expected amount, what do you do?" Prager asked. Haddad responded, "If it comes in higher, we cut. We would not finish the second floor, and we would eliminate the meeting room. "

Haddad stressed, "The plan for the fire station is to fund this project within the levy limit and without raising taxes."

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