NEW SHARON – The old town office was demolished Tuesday, an early step in a plan to shift municipal and fire department operations into a single building.
At a special town meeting held in December, more than 100 residents overwhelmingly approved funding the construction of a new town office and fire station at the site of the current town office building. That building, previously a school acquired by New Sharon after the creation of MSAD 9, had been plagued with leaks and mold issues for years. In October, a pipe connected to a furnace burst, closing the building and highlighting those longer-standing issues. Meanwhile, discussions regarding a replacement for the fire station have gone on for years.
While planners considered preserving some of the above-ground structure of the old school for use in a new building, they ultimately rejected that idea after determining that a complete tear down and rebuild would be both months faster and more than $150,000 cheaper. The new, one-story building will make use of much of the existing foundation, with a new floor being poured for the fire station bays.
The estimated cost of the project is $1.37 million. Voters approved using $200,000 from the Fire Station Reserve Account, $66,000 from the miscellaneous general fund, $25,000 from the dump closure account and $100,000 from the town’s general account to help meet that cost; the remainder would be borrowed.
The town has since accepted the lower of two bids received to demolish the old school, contracting with Cross Excavation of Bethel to do the work.
Previously, planners said that construction would be roughly a seven-and-a-half month-long process. Information passed on by Board of Selectman Chair Lorna Nichols from A.E. Hodsdon Engineers, the firm that has been working with the town, indicates that both public fire protection and municipal business are considered essential services, as the term relates to the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, and as a result construction related to those services is permitted, if separation policies are followed.
The next step, according to Al Hodsdon of A.E. Hodsdon Engineers, will be to bid out the actual construction of the replacement structure.