Citizen committee selects top site after considering a dozen
By Polly Lynn Mikula
KILLINGTON—Do we really need a new fire station? Was the first question the Fire Department Facility Review Committee asked themselves when they formed in December 2014.
Two and a half years later, the committee concluded that the town does indeed need a new station and that the best site would be a four acre lot just southeast of Woods Road. The Woods Spa and Resort shares the site’s western border, and Peppino’s and Mountain Sports Inn are located across Killington Road. A separate road off Killington Road would be built to access the site.
Volunteer citizens, many of whom admitted to beinginitially skeptical of the project, its needs and costs, made up the committee.
“Am I here to rubber stamp the project or are we actually here to evaluate it?” said Stephen Finneron, remembered asking bluntly at the first committee gathering.
In addition to Finneron, Otto Iannantuoni, Vito Rasenas and Andrew Salamon make up the town Fire Department Facility Review Committee. (Andrea Weymouth was part of the original committee but felt she could not continue due to her absences.)
“We need a fire house on an emergency level,” said Chet Hagenbarth, highway and facilities director, Monday, June 19. “We’re in violation of state mandates. We have a fire department that doesn’t even meet fire code,” he said. “Nor does the fire department own all the land it currently occupies.”
But as part of their multi-year process ,the committee first considered what it would take to retrofit the current location. A lengthy report by architects Dore and Whittier helped the committee to determine that “The current site is inadequate to meet the current needs and future needs of the Killington fire station and renovating the existing structure is not cost effective,” according to an initial status report they gave to the Select Board in February 2015.
In April 2015 the Fire Department Facility Review Committee concluded, “Yes, we need a fire department. No, it can’t be here,” remembered committee member Stephen Finneron, referring to its current location.
At that point the committee started exploring other sites in town—some for sale, others not. Through 2015 and 2016, the committee considered a total of 13 sites weighing a multitude of criteria from ease of access and distance, to cost of site work, to cost and quantity of land available, then ranking those criteria. Four good possibilities rose to the top and were further investigated.
From there, the committee concluded that the best site would be a four acre lot just south of Woods Road.
“We didn’t consider this site until we ran out of other options that were functional and affordable. To be honest, we really didn’t want to re-approach Steve Durkee, but we did and he’s been great to deal with,” said Hagenbarth, explaining that two and a half years earlier they had first considered another piece of land Durkee owned next to Charity’s. The committee had used it as a sample off-site location during preliminary comparisons between retrofitting the existing building and building at a new site.
“He honestly had the best two sites on Killington Road, in my opinion,” said Hagenbarth. The sample site turned out not to be big enough to meet the town’s needs.
The town negotiated a purchase price of $525,000 for four acres of land. Additionally, Durkee will provide $20,000 of in kind services to prep the site. Voters will be asked to approve $634,360, which in addition to the purchase of the land, includes engineering investigation and design ($21,860) and architectural design ($87,500) so that an accurate project cost and scope can be presented to the voters the following summer for approval.
Tentative scope of project
The proposed scope of the project envisions a public safety building to house the fire department and first responders, police department and Killington Search and Rescue. It will have seven bays to meet the town’s current need (six for the fire department and one for police or ambulance) and also allow for expansion to an eighth bay, in the future, if needed, Hagenbarth noted. It will also have a meeting room with an outside entrance that will be used primarily for training, but could also serve as a community meeting space. The tentative building estimate is $3.5-$4 million. It will be called the Killington Public Safety Buidling.
The plans for the existing building are to remove the south part of the building (facing Killington Market), which does not meet code, and keep the three bays that were a later addition. The fire department would also continue to use the 35,000 gallon water storage tank below the bays, which is refilled by the river.
July 4, 2017: Information about the location and tentative project scope will be available at Killington’s Fourth of July celebration.
August 2017: Town warning for September vote to buy proposed land
September 2017: Vote to buy proposed land
Summer 2018: Vote on specific design/plan/scope
Spring 2019: Construction to begin
Photo courtesy of the the town of Killington
Proposed new Killington Public Safety Building on Killington Road.