Brunswick will borrow $13.5M for new fire station

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BRUNSWICK — Plans to replace Brunswick’s 100-year-old Central Fire Station are moving forward after councilors on Monday unanimously approved bonding for a new station.

During public comment, there was overwhelming support from residents for the project without sending the decision to referendum.

Councilors narrowly defeated a $15 million plan, opting instead to borrow $13.5 million for the project.

Councilor Jane Millett, who initially voted for the $15 million plan, said she was “extremely disappointed,” but is glad the $13.5 million plan was approved.

“You know, it really is very, very disappointing that after all these years the full amount wasn’t supported, but I am glad this process is finally moving forward,” said Millett.

Councilor Stephen Walker said he wasn’t convinced the $1.5 million would make that much of a difference.

“I think the $13.5 million gives us a very modern station,” he said. “I think we are doing right by our public safety folks and our taxpayers, who I was also elected to think of.”

Brunswick Fire Chief Kenneth Brillant said he’s relieved to be getting to the next step in the process, which includes land acquisition.

“I appreciate the time and effort the councilors have put into this issue and although the entire project wasn’t funded, I am elated that we can finally move forward with getting a new station,” Brillant said. “Now we can move on to looking at land and all that, and I am really excited we can get this done.”

In previous workshops, Brillant said he was looking at areas around Pleasant Street. Beyond acquiring land for an appropriate location, no further information on a timeline was available.

According to Brillant, most of the cuts he made to the earlier, full-funded proposal were in storage and square footage, and were done because he was asked to make cuts, not because the areas aren’t needed. A bay was eliminated and a training room was downsized. A museum area intended to display some of the station’s century-old artifacts was also cut.

Millett said she would like to see a fundraiser held to get enough funds to build a museum because “it is very important history to the town.”

These remaining items could be added into the ordinance as “add alternates,” Eldridge said in an earlier meeting. If bids come in under budget, certain items could be added back while keeping the total within the targeted amount.

The new station will replace one that several councilors called “hazardous” in previous meetings.

Central Station has a laundry list of problems and is not accessible to people with disabilities. Ironically, it also has no fire protection system and has many physical deficiencies, according to a report from Brillant and Deputy Chiefs Jeff Emerson and Donald Koslosky.

The project includes an estimated $11 million for the station and roughly $2.5 million for land acquisition.

The new station includes a floor plan of around 24,000 square feet, 15,000 square feet larger than the current station, with six vehicle bays, compared with the current two.

According to the bonding schedule provided by the town, the first payment of $904,000 in the 25-year borrowing plan will be due in fiscal year 2021. The project is estimated to add a 2.1 percent increase next year to the tax rate, or 40 cents per $1,000 of real estate valuation.

Despite the tax increase, residents still showed support for the project.

“You are going to bring firefighters in by giving them a place of beauty to work in,” resident Debbie Richards said during the April 1 meeting. “It’s not that much of an increase on our property taxes. The citizens will support it for a group of people who go running into a building most of us are going to be running out of.”

Patti McDonald can be reached at 780-9123 or pmcdonald@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @pmcdonaldme.

Brunswick’s Central Fire Station is in a century-old building at Town Hall Place. Town councilors on April 1 approved borrowing $13.5 million for a replacement.

Brunswick residents on April 1 showed overwhleming support for a new Central Fire Station. Councilors voted unanimously to spend $13.5 million.

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