By Kyle Stucker
Hampton-North Hampton Patch, November 4, 2013
[The following article is courtesy of Hampton-NorthHampton.patch.com
The new Hampton Beach fire station, shown just before construction fencing was removed
from the now-completed site. [Kyle Stucker photo]
Five years ago, it was a distant, distant thought that didn't have a firm date on the end of its timeline — let alone a guarantee that the timeline would even begin.
After years and years of debates, revisions and meetings, though, the new Hampton Beach fire station and the upgrades at the Winnacunnet Road fire station are all but complete.
It's a happy time for Hampton Fire Chief Chris Silver and his crew, especially since the newly-completed state-of-the-art Brown Avenue fire station is a stark contrast to its outdated counterpart right next door.
"I don’t miss the old [Hampton Beach] building," said Silver with a sigh and a small laugh Monday. "I’m glad to be out. Each time I go into the old building, I realize how bad it really was now that we’re living in something actually suited to be a fire station."
Last week, the Hampton Beach crews were officially moved into their new station and dispatch was completely moved into the new addition at the Winnacunnet Road station.
Both stations are now fully occupied and operating, which is a welcome sight for Silver because it signals the end of his department's tireless efforts to bring the $5.7 million two-station project to completion.
"When we started, I was optimistic and hopeful that it would take 12-to-14 months from start to finish," said Silver, who added that construction stayed on schedule and went "smoothly" considering there were two simultaneous projects. "We did start just a little bit late, and obviously we made up a little bit of lost time... but I don't think we're bad off."
Not all of the renovations have been performed in the existing part of the Winnacunnet Road station, which was receiving new sprinkler piping Monday. Silver said he's "pretty optimistic" all of the renovations will be done by the "end of next week."
The old Hampton Beach fire station on Ashworth Avenue was originally slated for demolition on Monday, although Silver said more asbestos was found during inspections last week. Silver was scheduled to appear before the Hampton Board of Selectmen Monday night to receive authorization for additional asbestos mitigation, which he said will be likely completed in time for the building to be razed at some point next week.
The old station, the lot for which will be used for more than 80 Hampton Beach Village District parking spaces once the structure is demolished, has a significant amount of history, although Silver said he's been "very detached" to the structure as his department worked on a structure that actually supported and fulfilled their needs.
"I thought less of the old building and more of the new [as the move began]," said Silver. "I think others were more reluctant to move because of the change. Now that we’re in, I think all of the members are glad that we’re in and see that it’s a real improvement to where we've come from. Because of that, all of us have been able to let go of what we held onto with the old building. I don’t think I'm sad to see it go at this point."
A ribbon cutting ceremony will likely be held in a couple of weeks for each structure, as Silver said there's still a lot of unpacking to do before his department can fully "settle in" and declare the work completed.
"I have to give all of the members a lot of credit — they really put a lot of effort into getting everything packed and moved and unpacked," said Silver. "They’ve really done a good job making everything look like home."