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Litchfield to vote on scaled-back fire station proposal

Union Leader Correspondent

January 23. 2018 10:11PM
Plans for a proposed fire station in Litchfield have been scaled back to include four bays at a cost of $3.75 million, compared to the original price of $5.5 million. (Courtesy)

LITCHFIELD — Town officials have modified the design of the proposed fire station to be considered by voters in March, with the hopes that a lower price will be supported at the polls.

“We heard the public,” said Selectman Brent Lemire, chairman of the board. During a recent public hearing on the fire station project, several residents raised concerns about the initially proposed $5.5 million building with 10 apparatus doors.

Lemire met with the architects, construction crew, selectmen and fire officials in an effort to scale back the project and design something that would be more affordable and still as beneficial.

New conceptual plans have since been drafted that reduce the cost of the station to $3,729,400 — about $1.7 million less than the original proposal.

Nearly 30 items were modified in the plans, according to Preston Hunter of Eckman Construction.

“We eliminated one bay in the apparatus bay, so now it is a four-bay station,” explained Hunter, adding the apparatus doors were also changed from folding doors to traditional overhead doors.

In addition, the proposed length of the bays was shortened, three offices were eliminated from the plans, some concrete walls are now planned to be made of wood, some shelving will be used instead of cabinets, and other electrical and cosmetic reductions were also made to the conceptual design.

“The bottom line is we need to do something,” Chief Frank Fraitzl of the Litchfield Fire Department told selectmen.

Lemire stressed that the final cost of the project still has not been determined, explaining the cost estimates are rough numbers.

“This project still has to go to bid. This is not the final figure,” he said, adding there could be some savings.

The new plans reduce the square footage of the proposed building from 13,100 square feet to about 11,000 square feet. The modified design also decreases the cost per square foot from $417 to $339.

Selectman Steve Perry questioned whether the savings would be a compromise, asking whether the facility would be subpar if the modified design were implemented.

“I understand what is going on. I understand we are trying to make this more affordable,” Perry acknowledged.

Selectmen voted 5-0 on Monday to recommend the modified $3.7 million proposal as a warrant article. Following the town’s deliberative session on Feb. 3, the budget committee will have an opportunity to vote on its recommendation of the plan; the committee originally voted against the $5.5 million proposal.

If approved by voters, the new fire station would replace the existing two-bay station at 257 Charles Bancroft Highway, and would be constructed on town-owned property at Liberty Way next to the existing town offices.

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