Plans await cost estimates in advance of a Town Meeting Day vote
By Polly Mikula
The town of Killington has preliminary designs for a new public safety building. Plans call for a multipurpose 15,260-square-foot building to house the volunteer fire department, search and rescue, and town police department. The plans have six bays for firetrucks in the front of the building and two in the rear for light rescue and police, a hose tower, a DUI holding cell, lockers, offices and a public meeting room.
The building will be located off Killington Road on a four-acre lot just southeast of Woods Road, across from Peppino’s and the Mountain Sports Inn. Voters approved the land purchase for a public safety building last year and the town has been working on designs for that site, since. The plans are expected to come in under $4 million. Town Manager Chet Hagenbarth said he expects to have a solid number for citizens to vote on at Town Meeting Day, March 5, 2019.
If voters approve the bond to build a public safety building, construction would likely be in the summer 2020, due to scheduling the new bond payments to begin after other current debts are set to retire, Hagenbarth said.
“The goal is to keep the debt service flat,” he explained.
The designs for the public safety building have been led by the Fire Department Facility Review Committee, a group of citizen volunteers who were originally tasked with weighing options for the town when the current fire department building was found to be in violation of state code in 2013.
Citizens on the committee include: Steve Finneron (chair), Otto Iannantuoni, Vito Rasenas, Andrew Salamon and Richard Kropp.
After deciding that fixing the current fire house was not in the town’s best interest (due to high costs and compromises), the committee began searching for alternatives – beginning with a new site.
After vetting 13 properties, the committee put the 4-acre site to a public vote. The 30-year, $634,000 bond to secure that land passed 102 to 84 on Sept. 5, 2017.
Included in that bond was the purchase of the 4-acre parcel for $525,000; civil engineering designs for $21,500; and fees for schematic architectural design and construction estimate for $87,500.
Since then, the committee has been working on a future building design.
“It’s been a tedious process, but very educational,” said Finneron, who is the chair of the Fire Department Facility Review Committee and the chair of the Select Board. “Who knew that you had to have a specific drain in the holding cell so that folks couldn’t flush narcotics, for example … or that the slope of the floor in a fire station ought to be a specific angle so that the floor stays dry … there are so many particulars that make big differences,” he said.
The Fire Department Facility Review Committee frequently consults with the Killington Fire Department, Killington Police and Killington Search and Rescue to ensure that the design specifics meet their needs, Finneron said. It also has hired DEW Company as the construction manager to oversee the bidding process and (eventually) the buildout of each part of the construction process, should voters approve the building plans on Town Meeting Day. Additionally, the committee hired Northeast Collaborative Architects (NCA) as the design firm, which has worked on many similar municipal buildings and has given the committee multiple options to solve identified needs.
The public safety building does not trigger an Act 250 hearing as the project is under 10 acres, Finneron noted.
The site and the preliminary design will allow the town to expand the building for future uses, as they arise in the future, Hagenbarth said. “The design is intentionally expandable, unlike pre-engineered buildings which do not allow for future changes,” he said. “We must evaluate costs for the best value over time. If we focus too much on saving pennies now, it will cost us dollars later.”
“This building will be part of the town for 50-60 years,” added Finneron. “We need it to be able to grow and change with the town’s needs … We need to consider the cost of maintenance over time,” he said.
Finneron and Hagenbarth both said they hope all public safety services could be consolidated in the new public safety building, including an underground cistern for the fire station. However, “all options are on the table” Finneron said.
The current fire station could continue to serve some functions, particularly if obstacles are found that limit possibilities, such as a cistern, at the new site.
“The preliminary plans are now mostly finished,” said Finneron. “Now we’re just tweaking a few details and working on the right materials to use.”
“We’re also at a stage where we’d love more community input,” he said. “What can you bring to the table? Do you have ideas or solutions we’re not thinking about? If so, come to our meetings!” Finneron said.
The Fire Department Facility Review Committee will be presenting the preliminary design to the Planning Commission to ensure compliance with local zoning regulations on Dec. 12. Visit killingtontown.com for the date and location of the next review committee meeting .