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Falmouth puts century-old fire station up for sale

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Falmouth puts century-old fire station up for sale

FALMOUTH — In the mid-1800s, the best place to party in town was the Union Hall. That's where people came to play whist, to dance, to see minstrel shows and generally to have fun.

However, according to a history of the building put together by Howard Reiche, the Union Hall was no longer the place to be by the early 1900s and was taken over by the Fire Company. That was when the Pleasant Hill Fire Station became what most residents would recognize today — although the Fire Company still held dances and whist competitions to raise money for equipment.

Now, the fire station is for sale.

The town has listed the half-acre property and building on Allen Avenue Extension with commercial real estate company CB Boulos for $190,000. Although the building is officially assessed for $343,000, another assessment done more recently put the value of the building at approximately $200,000.

The station, which housed Engine 3, was temporarily closed in May 2009 on the recommendation of the town manager and fire chief. They said the closing would save $50,000. Despite protests from neighborhood residents, the town moved forward with the station's permanent closure a year ago.

"With the Portland Ladder 4 Station less than a mile away and the (Falmouth) Central Station, we've got it all covered," Assistant Fire Chief Doug Patey said.

The Fire Department is now using the Pleasant Hill station to store two fire trucks, one of which it intends to sell. The other, a 1925 antique, will have to be moved to a museum or into storage.

"I'm not sure what we're going to do with that," Patey said of the truck, which is frequently used in town parades.

Antique fire truck storage is not reason enough for the town to hold on to the property. The Community Facilities Planning Committee recommended selling the property after its examination of town-owned properties last year and, on Jan. 10, the Town Council OK'd the plan.

The property is zoned residential, although councilors have indicated they would consider a contract zone for commercial development, depending on what is proposed.

Council Chairman Tony Payne, who lives in the neighborhood, said he would like to see the market determine what comes next.

"Let’s make sure that property gets into use and on the tax rolls as quickly as possible," he said.

Two open houses are scheduled for the building: Feb. 1 from noon to 1 p.m. and Feb. 3 from 5-6 p.m. Offers are due by April 7.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 et. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net