Yarmouth council endorses new public safety building

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YARMOUTH — The Town Council on June 14 endorsed construction of a public safety facility on North Road, subject to further discussion and a decision to send the question to voters in November. 

Vice Chairman Robert Waeldner was also unanimously appointed chairman of the council for the next year.

“It’s an honor and a pleasure to be chair of this council and I look forward to a great year,” Waeldner said. “I want to pass along my thanks to former Chairwoman Thompson for her wonderful work and leading us in a difficult year.”

Just minutes after newly elected Councilor Andrew Kittredge was sworn in, he was nominated and unanimously elected vice chairman. 

Although he was elected June 12, Kittredge is no stranger to the panel; he served on the council from 2011-2017, the final year as chairman. 

Before giving way to Kittredge and Councilor Meghan Casey, who also was elected this month, Councilors Jim MacLeod and David Craig voted in favor of moving forward with plans to renovate and expand the fire-rescue station at 178 North Road to accommodate both emergency services and the police department.

Preliminary cost estimates place the project at $8.5 million, but that could change during over the next few months. Subject to another vote by the council, the proposed project will go to a referendum vote in November. 

According to the town’s website, Yarmouth’s debt is being retired, so in the next few years, debt service is projected to drop by 34 percent. As it stands, debt service accounts for almost 8 percent of the property tax bill. With the proposed $8.5 million public safety building going forward, it’s projected to decrease from $1.40 to 92 cents per $1,000 between fiscal year 2024-34. 

Moving the Police Department to North Road would open up space in Town Hall for Community Services, which is now in a portable classroom behind Town Hall.

Both departments, as well as Community Services, have outgrown their spaces. 

The North Road fire station was built in 1976, when the town operated three fire stations; it was designed for “smaller apparatus.” Since then, fire and medical calls have increased four-fold, from approximately 400 in 1976 to 1,634 in 2017.

A 35-year-old modular building behind the station, previously used by the School Department, serves as office and living space for fire/EMS. 

According to Schiavi Mobile Homes, the life expectancy of the building was only 20 years. Much like Community Services’ building, the space was meant to be temporary.

If the voters approve the project in November, construction would likely begin in spring 2019 and be completed in spring 2020.

Town Manager Nat Tupper stressed that the council’s unanimous support was only for the project concept and was subject to a subsequent vote after they’ve “poured through all the details to (their) satisfaction.” 

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

 
 

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