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Bow residents to decide fate of fire station at second part of town meeting

The Bow fire station will again take center stage at part two of the town meeting tomorrow night. This time, residents will consider plans to repair the station where it stands, a week after they overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to construct a brand-new building to house both the fire and police stations.

The state fire marshal has mandated the town’s fire station be brought up to code by September 2016. Already, the department has relocated the firefighters’ overnight quarters to a separate rescue building to bring them into compliance.

At the 7 p.m. meeting, residents will first vote on a $225,000 plan to repair the station’s electrical wiring and the kitchen venting system, which was put on the warrant by a petition organized in part by the Concerned Taxpayers of Bow.

The proposed cost of the article was derived by combining a $25,000 estimate to fix the kitchen vent and the mid-range estimate, $200,000, provided to the town to fix the electrical wiring, said Bryan Gould, a member of the group.

The “intent is to appropriate enough to repair those two problems, because it was our understanding those were the two deficiencies that needed to be addressed,” Gould said.

Town officials say these measures alone won’t satisfy all of the fire marshal’s concerns outlined in a letter sent to the town last summer. On Friday afternoon, Town Manager David Stack and selectmen Chairman Jack Crisp met with state fire investigator Ronald Anstey, who inspected Bow’s station with investigator William Clark last spring.

“He made it very clear to us that all life safety code matters have to be dealt with, not just the electric,” Crisp said. “Doing that alone will not fix the issues the fire marshal raised.”

The largest concern, Stack said, is creating fire separation between the station on one side of the building and the community center on the other.

Anstey did not return a call seeking comment.

The Concerned Taxpayers of Bow will propose amending the article at the meeting, according the group’s website, to withdraw $225,000 from the town’s general fund instead of raising and appropriating the sum. That change would make the article tax neutral, Gould said.

No matter the outcome of that vote, residents will next consider proposals for the design and renovation of the current fire and police buildings to bring them up to code. That would cost $4.6 million and $1.7 million, respectively, and is not recommended by the majority of selectmen or budget committee members. Both of those measures need to pass with a two-thirds majority since they would be financed by a bond.

More than 600 residents turned out to the first part of town meeting March 13, when the proposed public safety building was defeated. During the discussion, many voiced concern over the building’s $6.7 million price tag. The project would have housed the fire, emergency management and police stations in a brand-new building, constructed across the street from the current fire station and community building. Selectmen had cut $1 million from the cost of last year’s proposed safety building, which won more than half the vote last year but failed to reach the two-thirds majority.

The town still needs to consider more than 10 other warrant articles, including appropriating $190,000 to purchase a loader for the public works department and to spend $50,000 to conduct a Community Building Options Study.

Last week, residents approved the $9.9 million operating budget, but rejected an amendment that would have added $40,000 to the parks and recreation budget. Residents approved spending $350,000 to pave roads and rejected a proposal to replace the intersection of Knox, White Rick Hill and Logging Hill roads with a roundabout.

(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or at amorris@cmonitor.com.)

This story has been updated to correctly reflect the date set by the state fire marshal.

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