New Fire and Rescue Building Proposed for Sebago

By Allen Crabtree

Special to The News

SEBAGO — The Town of Sebago is fortunate to have a dedicated core of volunteers, who respond at all hours of the day and night, in all seasons and weather conditions, to help protect the lives and property of our citizens.

Members of the Sebago Fire Department and the Sebago Emergency Medical Service devote countless hours every year to hone their technical skills and respond to medical emergencies, house fires, vehicle accidents, water and ice rescues, and a host of other emergencies.

Sebago has four stations where essential public safety apparatus is housed, but some stations are aging and expensive to maintain and heat. The oldest, Station 2 in East Sebago (initial building 1947), is in serious need of major renovation. Stopgap measures to patch and repair the older stations are not cost effective.

Since 1996, the town has been struggling with how to maintain the effectiveness of the fire and rescue response to protect the town while reducing operating costs at these stations. A number of different recommendations have been presented at town meetings over the years.

A new Fire and Rescue Building is proposed

A Fire and Rescue Task Force appointed by the Sebago Board of Selectmen is proposing that the town build a new 10,000-square-foot Fire and Rescue building that would allow consolidating fire and rescue apparatus from three of the four stations into one facility.

This would reduce operating costs and response time, and would allow closing Station 2 and converting Station 3 (North Sebago) and the Rescue building to other needed town functions.

This new Fire and Rescue building would be centrally located between North and East Sebago at the sandpit north of East Sebago on Route 114. The site is now owned by Shaw Brothers.

At the June 2011 town meeting, Sebago voters approved transferring $268,674 from town funds already saved to purchase a site there for the building and to do site development. None of these funds have yet been spent to purchase the site nor to begin site development work — this will wait until after there is a positive vote from taxpayers at the June 12 referendum. The site purchase from Shaw Brothers would then be finalized and site development work would be done by them for a total price of $267,284.

Preliminary design work and site plan engineering have been done. The Sebago Planning Board held two public hearings and approved the site plan application for the new building at their March 13 meeting.

What will the building cost?

Construction of the building is separate from the site purchase and site development work described above and would involve an additional cost. Very favorable bids were received from five firms to construct the new building. All of the bids were well below the $878,039 construction estimate that officials had obtained earlier this year, reflecting the realities of the present economy. Security Construction Services was selected as the general contractor with a low bid of $730,115, contingent on voter approval of the referendum.

The town proposes to finance the new building with a 15-year bond through the Maine Municipal Bond Bank at an average 2.25% interest rate. Voters will be asked to approve $830,000 in bonding, which will include building construction, building pad excavation and backfilling, a 5% town contingency, a 4% architects fee, and hiring a “clerk of the works.”

The annual net cost of the new building would be $50,040 per year for 15 years, or a millage increase of 14.3¢ per year. This would represent an increase in taxes for a $200,000 home of $28.64 per year for 15 years (8¢ per day). The 15-year note means the cost of the building will be spread over current and future taxpayers, all of whom will benefit from this 50-year building.

What is next?

A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, May 22 at the Sebago Town Hall starting at 6 p.m.

Three public hearings were held earlier to present the proposed new building to the voters and to respond to questions.

An exhaustive evaluation of other sites was done, the option of building the new station on town land was given a thorough review, and the cost of renovating Station 2 in East Sebago so the town could continue using it was reviewed. None of these options were as cost effective as the proposed building on the proposed site.

This fourth public hearing on May 22 is to update voters on what is proposed. Voters are urged to attend the public hearing to help them become familiar with the proposal.

Sebago voters will have an opportunity to vote on funding for the new building at a referendum on June 12. If approved by voters, site development and building construction would begin immediately thereafter with occupancy anticipated in early 2013.

The Fire and Rescue Building Task Force “strongly recommend that the new building is needed and long overdue.” Officials said the time is right and prices may never be more affordable for the building and financing. The new building will serve Sebago’s public safety needs for the next 50 years.

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