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Falmouth seeks stimulus money for improvements to fire station

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Falmouth seeks stimulus money for improvements to fire station

FALMOUTH — The town has applied for federal stimulus money to help fund a $1 million renovation and addition to Fire Station 4 on Winn Road.

The request is for just under $500,000 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Falmouth would match the funding with $500,000 from the town's undesignated fund balance.

"It's not a matter of if we need to update the Winn Road fire station,
it's only a matter of when and is this the opportune time to do so,
especially on the heels of creating the efficiencies of reducing down
to three stations," Town Manager Nathan Poore said at
Monday's council meeting.

The proposal includes a 20-by-70-foot, two-story addition to the rear of the building that would increase space for the department and provide sleeping quarters for college students who will live in the station and respond to calls as part of a training program.

The work would also add a sprinkler system and other safety upgrades, improve functionality and increase public access to the station, which has 34 firefighters.

In addition, the plan would improve the station's ability to provide mutual aid, Assistant Chief Doug Patey said.

"From a perspective of how they look at the grants, it's going to look very nice, very aggressive," Patey said. "I feel fairly confident we can be successful in this."

The proposal was submitted before last Friday's deadline, but the town has 60 days to make the decision whether to allocate the money or withdraw the application.

"It sounds great, but it's also coming only a couple of months after closing a station," Councilor Bonny Rodden noted.

While she said the funding wouldn't be available for the Pleasant Hill Fire Station, Rodden said she would be more comfortable after hearing residents' input.

Under the new Town Charter, the council could have voted to allocate the $500,000 without public comment or a referendum.

"If we have a public hearing for this are we going to start holding public hearings for everything we do or are we as a council going to make the decisions that we're supposed to be making?," Councilor Will Armitage asked.

After a brief discussion, in which some councilors voiced their support of the plan, they decided to hold a public hearing before making a decision.

Building elevations and more information on the proposal are available on the town's Web site, town.falmouth.me.us. The public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, July 27.

This story was edited to clarify that some, not all, of the councilors voiced their support of the plan.

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net.

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