Multimillion-dollar project called 'long overdue'
By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, December 14, 2012
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
The Hampton Fire Department kicked off the construction of the new beach fire substation with a special groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday. From left are Stephen LaBranche, treasurer of the Hampton Beach Village District, Fire Chief Chris Silver and other members of the Hampton Beach Village District Precinct, Walter Kivlan, Richard Reniere, Chuck Rage and Robert Ladd. [Ioanna Raptis Photo]
HAMPTON -- Several shovels hit the ground Wednesday, signifying the official start of construction of what town officials say is a "desperately needed" new fire station at Hampton Beach.
"This was many, many, many years in the making," said Fire Chief Chris Silver, who spent three years planning the project that finally gained voter approval in March. "I truly can say the community of Hampton came together, both the beach and the town, to make this happen."
Over two dozen officials and residents came to the special groundbreaking ceremony Dec. 12, where construction has already started on the site of the former precinct parking lot on Brown Avenue.
The new $3.1 million substation is being built on that lot directly behind the current beach fire station, which was constructed in 1924. The new substation will be a two-story building with four apparatus bays.
Many in attendance said the project was long over due.
Some, who worked on previous fire station proposals that failed in 2006, 2008 and 2011, said they never thought the day would come.
"It's hard to believe this is happening," said Hampton Beach Village Precinct Chairman Chuck Rage.
The precinct commissioners have long advocated for the need of a new station and even relinquished precinct land as part of a land swap with the town.
"This is one of the reasons I ran for selectmen," said Selectmen Chairman Rick Griffin. "To make sure this happened."
Town Manager Fred Welch said he's pleased all the hard work over the years finally paid off, but more importantly what the project means to the community.
"This is for the safety of the community and the safety of our employees," Welch said.
Welch said the new facility when completed will allow the department to vacate what he called a deteriorating building.
In the last six years, problems at the current beach fire station have been well documented, including issues with termites, mold, and toxic lead paint, all of which had to be rectified.
"We can now purchase appropriate firefighter equipment," Welch said. "We could not buy new apparatus because the building is too small and it wouldn't fit."
Former Hampton Fire Chief William "Skip" Sullivan said he too will be happy to see the department vacate the old station.
"I came to work in that building in May of 1968 and the building should have been torn down then," Sullivan said. "It's long overdue and this is a great thing for the beach and the town."
Once the new beach facility is constructed, the current station will be torn down and turned into a new precinct parking lot.
Silver, who is also serving as clerk of the works for the project, said he's excited to finally break ground.
"I just really want to thank all the voters," Silver said.
Hampton voters in March approved the new beach substation as part of a $5.75 million two-station plan at the annual Town Meeting.
In addition to the new substation, a $2.6 million addition will be put on the town fire station on Winnacunnet Road.
The addition includes two new apparatus bays and a building to house administrative offices and crew quarters.
Silver said they intend to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for that project on Monday.
Goudreau & Associates, the same architectural firm that worked on the conceptual designs for both projects, developed full-fledged plans for both projects.
Eckman Construction is construction manager for the project, working with the engineers and architects to make sure both projects can be executed within budget. The department has set up a blog to keep residents up to date on the progress of the two stations. The blog can be found at www.hamptonfire-rescue.blogspot.com.
Both projects are expected to be completed by August 2013.
A schematic illustration shows what the new fire substation at Hampton Beach will look like.
Contractors work at the site of the new Hampton Beach fire substation on Brown Avenue on Wednesday. [Ioanna Raptis Photo]