Topsham selectmen OK demolition of old fire station

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TOPSHAM — The old fire station on Green Street could be leveled this weekend after a unanimous vote July 19 by the Board of Selectmen.

Selectmen also discussed coming up with a single name for Brookside Drive, Homeplace and Somerset Place, which comprise a continuous road.

They also approved a letter to the Maine Department of Transportation expressing agreement with the agency’s recommended replacement plan for the Frank J. Wood Bridge.

Copp Excavating will demolish the fire station at a cost of about $19,000. Public Works Director Dennis Cox recommended the Durham company, which submitted the lowest of five bids for the job.

Demolition could possibly begin this weekend, Town Manager Rich Roedner said Tuesday.

Although the town’s Public Works Department was originally expected to do the work, the cost could have reached nearly $22,000, including excavator rental and disposal of construction debris and concrete, Cox reported in a July 10 memo to Roedner.

Along with safely tearing down the building, Copp’s work includes hauling off debris and paying for its disposal. The foundation will not be removed, but all materials down to the cement floor will be taken out.

The town occupied the Green Street building – used in recent years for storage – at least back to the 1950s, Roedner said earlier this month. Topsham’s Fire and Rescue Department vacated the building in 2007 when the government campus at 100 Main St. opened.

The town budgeted $15,000 in fiscal year 2018 to demolish the station, along with $180,000 to erect a new storage building near the Public Works Department. The storage building is in the permitting process and should be complete by winter, according to Roedner.

Of the $15,000, the town spent more than $1,300 for asbestos abatement and about $6,500 for asbestos removal, leaving more than $7,100, Cox said. The remaining $12,000 to cover Copp’s bid will come from money set aside in the town’s economic development fund, which the board has authorization to spend, Roedner said July 19.

A use for the property once the building is gone has yet to be determined.

One road, new bridge

After lengthy discussion on the matter July 19, selectmen opted to postpone further talks on finding a single name for Brookside Drive, Homeplace and Somerset Place, which run from Foreside Road northwest to Arbor Avenue, just southeast of Middlesex Road.

Justin Hennessey, the town’s assessor and addressing officer, sought guidance on the matter to make the road easier for emergency responses. All houses would then be renumbered in accordance with the street name between Arbor Avenue and Foreside Road, Hennessey said.

The state’s E-911 protocol guides street naming and numbering practices, Roedner said in a July 11 memo to the board, adding that prohibiting an Elm Street and Elm Avenue in the same town is one example of a preferred naming practice.

“Minutes, or seconds, lost in response can dramatically change the outcome of a 911 call,” the manager said.

Some longtime residents along the corridor noted the inconvenience of having to change addresses, and town officials asked for more time to discuss the issue with the neighborhood. Hennessey is also leaving his post next month to become Brunswick’s assessor, so Roedner wants his replacement in place before the matter is taken up again.

As a result, the board postponed discussion to an as-yet-undetermined date.

Selectmen also unanimously endorsed a letter to the state DOT that backs its recommended plan for the Frank J. Wood Bridge, which spans the Androscoggin River between Brunswick and Topsham.

The Brunswick Town Council voted 6-2 to approve such a letter July 16.

A final bridge plan is anticipated by the end of the summer; DOT in June 2017 stated that construction of a new bridge upstream of the existing structure is its “preferred alternative” over rehabilitating the bridge.

The Friends of the Frank J. Wood Bridge maintains the bridge is an aesthetic commodity to the Mid-Coast that should be preserved.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Topsham’s former fire station on Green Street could be demolished this weekend.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.