By Evan Johnson
KILLINGTON—Killington is in need of a new firehouse and the town’s Fire Department Facility Review Committee is convinced they have found a location at a price that can’t be beat. On Sept. 5, they’ll need the approval from taxpayers to move forward with their plan to build on a site on Killington Road.
According to Chet Hagenbarth, Killington’s highways and facilities department director, Killington is overdue for a firehouse by at least two years. To hear town officials describe the current structure, which has stood since 1978, the situation is grim.
The building needs significant renovations due to age and deterioration. The current building does not meet current state requirements for universal access, or even — most ironically — state fire code. The building’s second floor, where the department holds meetings and trainings, lacks sufficient fire exits and even its weight-bearing ability is questionable. The building features other design flaws: exposed lightbulbs next to insulation, missing handrails on staircases and pump systems next to electronics.
“You spring a pinhole leak and you’ve got water in your electrical system, which causes fires,” said review committee member Stephen Finneron.
The current facility on Killington Road sits on 0.68 acres, hard up against abutting properties and Killington Road. When responders arrive at the station to suit up before going out a call, they must park on adjacent properties, such as the Killington Market. Firetrucks pulling out of the bays onto the road must contend with oncoming traffic from both directions and a narrow turning radius.
“You have a 70-foot truck that comes out of the end of that building onto a road that’s only 50 feet across,” said Finneron.
The property, which is currently owned by Killington Fire and Rescue, also lacks the space required to meet storm water treatment and retention requirements. The space requires 3 to 4 acres to meet those requirements and to site a facility capable of housing fire, rescue and police departments.
These factors earned Killington Fire and Rescue’s current home a “non-compliant” ruling by the state in 2013 but has been permitted to remain open as the town searches for a solution.
Before a new firehouse can be built, the town needs land. To that end, the committee reviewed a total of 13 sites around Killington.
The proposed new home for Killington’s fire, rescue and police departments is a four-acre lot just southeast of Woods Road. Members of the review committee have said the site offers good access to the rest of Killington Road, quick response times to the surrounding area, and value.
Voters will cast ballots Sept. 5 on a 30-year, $634,000 bond, payable in annual installments of $30,000. Included in this original price tag is: purchase of the four-acre parcel from current owner Steve Durkee for $525,000; $21,500 in civil engineering designs; and $87,500 in fees for schematic architectural design and construction estimate. (Durkee will also provide $20,000 in-kind services to clear and grade the site and construct a roadway.)
The informational meeting for the town vote will be held Thursday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. in the Killington Elementary School gymnasium. Voting will be completed by Australian ballot on Sept. 5 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the Killington town office.
Following an affirmative vote, the town will conduct a final site evaluation at an estimated cost of between $10,000 and $12,000, move to purchase the land, and issue a Request For Quotation (RFQ) for an architect.
The design by the yet-to-be-selected architectural firm will be finalized before the town votes on the final facility construction bond.
Finneron said another item on the wish list is to operate dispatch out of the space for all public safety needs. “If someone has a question that has to do with public safety, they’re going to have one place to call,” he said.
Vote will be held Sept. 5
An informational meeting will be held Thursday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. in the Killington Elementary School gymnasium. Voting will be held Sept. 5 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the Killington town office.