HYANNIS – Hyannis Fire District voters will have a third chance to make their feelings known about a new $20 million fire station.
The project failed to earn the necessary two-thirds approval to pass at district meetings last spring and in July.
The building committee has been meeting since the July vote with four members of the Greater Hyannis Civic Association to come together on the project. The civic association had been opposed to the new station, citing the high price tag.
District voters already approved $3 million in design costs for the station. The additional price tag of $17.7 million has not changed since the July meeting. But Hyannis Fire Chief Harold Brunelle said the way the project will be presented to voters will be clarified this time around.
He said a meeting is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, October 25, during the day, in order to make the meeting more convenient for district voters, in particular the elderly.
Brunelle said that at a meeting on Wednesday, September 3, the building committee took what he called “a historic vote” to bring the project back to the voters. The vote was unanimous, Chief Brunelle said.
In August, the Hyannis Fire Commissioners voted to add civic association members to the building committee.
“Apparently there have been some trust issues going on because of the confusion with all the different figures that have been going back and forth. One of the things that was a concern, they wanted a ‘not to exceed’ cost,” he said.
That has been achieved, the chief said. “Now we finally have it, clear to everyone on the committee what we’re going forward with.”
That figure is $17,725,000. “That will be our drop dead figure, not to exceed cost,” he said.
The figure includes $15 million in building costs. With the pre-bid costs having to do with preliminary design and permitting, the project totals $18,950,000.
The district hopes to get $1,225,000 for the two parcels of real estate the district wants to sell.
That brings the total requested from district taxpayers to $17.7 million.
Chief Brunelle said he attributes the “trust” issue to more of a confusion because the changing cost of the project over the three years the building committee has been meeting. “There’s been so many different plans and so many different figures that I think people were getting confused,” he said.
Brunelle said that once civic association members were put on the committee and had full access to all the paperwork on the project, they felt more comfortable with the price tag.\
As for the real estate, which was a matter of discussion at both earlier district meetings, Brunelle said the district was not able to use a broker initially but is going through a process to be able to use a broker to market the parcels now that the first request for bids has gone out.
Brunelle said there has been quite a bit of interest in the two parcels.
As for the proposed new building, voters will see the same request as they saw in July when the project failed to pass by just five votes.
“There are no frills in the building. It’s what we need. There are no wants. It’s just needs and everybody seems pretty happy with the building,” he said of the plans.
Some civic association members had wanted the plans to be tweaked to lower the cost and Brunelle said those concerns were discussed. But he said at this stage in the plans, schematic design, the types of changes they were suggesting cannot be made.
“Architects, engineers and the project manager were able to explain to them that some of those ideas may in fact be used but right now, no determination can be made on the types of steel or any of that kind of stuff until we have full engineered plans,” he said.
If the voters approve the $17.7 million appropriation at the upcoming meeting, new plans can be drawn up and those types of changes can be made, Brunelle said.
“We know that this is a big project and a big expenditure but it is a desperately needed one,” he said.
If the voters approve the appropriation, the project to construct the new station will take three years, Brunelle said. He said he does not want to have to any put more money into the current aging station and so he hopes the approval comes swiftly.