GROTON -- With a goal firmly in sight, town officials have moved quickly to the design and permitting phases regarding a new Center Fire Station to be located on land off Farmers Row.
Movement began in earnest following a Town Meeting vote in April, when the Board of Selectmen was given authorization to enter purchase negotiations with the Lawrence Homestead Trust, owners of the property chosen by the Center Fire Station Building Committee as the best site for the facility.
Since then, Town Manager Mark Haddad has revealed that a purchase-and-sales agreement with the Lawrence Homestead Trust was in the works and a request for proposal issued to solicit bids from interested parties willing to act as project manager.
Joining Haddad at a meeting of the Conservation Commission last Tuesday night, Dorn & Whittier architect Don Walter said that the new fire station would come to 18,500 square feet, including a four-bay garage and two-story administration complex.
Cost of the 2.7-acre parcel on which the fire station would be built has been set at $350,000, with the final price tag for the new building estimated at $8 million.
Part of that cost will cover an extension of the town's sewer line from the public safety building also located on Farmers Row to the site of the new fire station, but it was an expenditure that Haddad was unable to pin down.
"We have to figure out the best way to get sewer service to the site," Haddad told the commission
Haddad was joined by the project's design team, including engineer John Perry who agreed with the town manager that it was too early as yet to say just how much construction of the sewer extension would cost.
That would depend on which of two options was chosen as the course by which wastewater services would be extended to the fire station.
One option was taking advantage of an easement granted the town by the Homestead Trust to extend the sewer line from the public safety building overland to the site of the new fire station.
Although the estimated 850-foot line had the advantage of being shorter than the alternative, it also meant crossing a small stream feeding into a nearby wetland that is of concern to the Conservation Commission.
The alternative was to avoid wetlands issues by bringing the sewer line from the public safety building down Farmers Row to the lot where the fire station is to be located, a length of about 1,600 feet.
But at last Tuesday night's public hearing, members of the Conservation Commission appeared friendly to the notion of the shorter line when they learned that Perry planned to lay the line beneath the stream using a directional drilling technique.
"Directional drilling is very attractive," commented commission member Craig Auman.
"I'd say that directional drilling is no problem at all," agreed fellow member Bruce Easom.
"Whatever you do, less is better," said Conservation Commission member Marshall Giguere on the minimum amount of disturbance the technique would mean for the wetlands.
Commissioners, however, did have other concerns about the project, including the possible development of three other lots created from the Homestead Trust property, delineation of wetlands, the level of existing groundwater along the path of the shorter sewer line, disturbance of the 100-foot buffer zone surrounding the wetlands, and replication of the environment after digging was completed.
With wetlands delineation still incomplete and cost estimates for either sewer option unavailable for the next few weeks, the fire station design team is expected to return with the information at a future meeting.