CIP Committee recommends $500,000 for facilities planning

  • Fire Chief Ed Walker talks about the needs of a new fire station during the Capital Improvement Plan Committee’s meeting on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • CIP Committee member Roland Patten discusses budgeting funds to make more solid plans for facilities updates for the highway and fire departments. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, November 16, 2017 10:5AM
Preliminary numbers for facilities upgradesNew Fire Station total cost: $6.5 millionCost fire station construction plans: $430,000New Highway Department garage total cost: $4 million Highway Department needs study: $70,000

The Capital Improvement Committee is recommending that the town raise half a million dollars during the 2018 town meeting in order to create pricing documents, a needs study for the highway department and construction plans for a new fire station. Before the recommendation gets to town meeting, the number will have to be reviewed by both the Budget Advisory Committee and the Select Board.

“We know that both the Fire Department and highway garage are in desperate need of something doing,” said Capital Improvement member Roland Patten. 

Of the proposed $500,000, about $70,000 would be for a needs study of the Highway Department, with the bulk going toward paying for pricing documents and plans for a new fire house.

The remaining $470,000 would allow for completed construction plans for a new fire station, which are the most expensive component, said Fire Chief Ed Walker in an interview on Wednesday, and can cost up to 10 percent of the total project’s cost. Walker said he will be meeting with town officials this week to discuss whether the town wants to pursue conceptual drawings and a firm pricing estimate, which might be less expensive. Comparatively, in 2015, Jaffrey considered spending $172,360 for a final design of a new town office building. In 2013, the New Ipswich Select Board proposed a warrant article spending up to 12,500 to conduct a feasibility study to look for a suitable location for a joint facility for the town’s police, fire and ambulance service.

The current plans for the departments is to construct a new fire house behind the Peterborough Community Center, near where the highway garage is currently, and rebuild a highway garage closer to the rest of the Department of Public Works department facilities such as the wastewater treatment plant on Water Street. The fire department would utilize the existing former armory motor pool building, which is currently used for storage, and convert and put an addition on that building. Both projects would have a significant cost – an estimated $4 million for the highway facilities, and $6.5 million for the fire station. The committee discussed recommending that the town consider the two projects as a whole, and finance them together for bonding purposes.

Discussion of new facilities for both departments has been an on-again off-again conversation since a 2005 study by the Keene company Weller and Michael. The study looked at several town departments and their current services and programs, and made recommendations about the needs of those departments.

The Fire Department’s assessment, said Fire Chief Ed Walker in an interview on Wednesday, found that space at the current fire station was inadequate.

“The programs that we have, the fire apparatus, the ambulance we have, our requirements for office space, sleeping and daytime living quarters, it works out to a need of about 18,000 to 19,000 square feet,” said Walker. “Our current facilities are 7,000 square feet.”

The Fire Department has hired an engineering and architectural firm to create some conceptual layouts of a new department at the Community Center site, also known as Evans Flats, and are ready to move onto the next step, which would include getting solid numbers for what it would cost, said Walker, which would be the first step to eventually presenting the project to the voters.

“If we’re going to do this, let’s do it,” said Walker. “Let’s give the taxpayers a total picture of what’s coming up for the major infrastructure projects.”

Ed Juengst, who is both a member of the CIP Committee and a selectman, agreed with that sentiment during Tuesday’s meeting, saying that while a warrant article asking to bond for the cost of new buildings might not come up on the ballot until five or more years down the road, it’s time to start talking seriously about the costs and letting the tax payers know what the potential costs are.

“We can’t keep kicking the can down the road, and we need to prepare the taxpayers,” he said. “There’s a lot of things on the horizon.”


Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.