CHARLTON — Charlton fire officials will hold a final public forum at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 21, in the firehouse regarding a $4.2 million plan to build a new fire station, five days before the public can vote on the plan Tuesday.
The plans the fire district is putting before voters calls for the district borrowing $3.7 million, which at current assessment levels would require a property tax increase of $83 per $100,000 value. The district will be taking $500,000 from a capital reserve account created for the building.
Parts of the current station are nearly 100 years old, and firefighters said the building needs to be replaced for with a modern station for a number of reasons, including safety.
The March 26 vote will take place from noon to 9 p.m. at the fire station.
The new station is proposed to be built about a half-mile east, on Charlton Road near Peaceable Street, a little east of the hamlet.
Firefighters hope to overcome past resistance to higher fire taxes — resistance that resulted in the defeat of several previous referendums on plans for new stations, most recently in 2010.
The current fire station, in the middle of the hamlet, dates from 1922, with some upgrades in the 1950s. It has low ceilings and short bay doors, very narrow spaces between trucks and other issues that firefighters say make it unsuitable for modern firefighting equipment, and potentially unsafe to work in.
Plans for a $3.2 million station were defeated in 2005, and plans for a $2.8 million station were defeated in both January and July of 2010, both times by fewer than 30 votes.
But firefighters said the underlying issues haven’t changed and early last year they began working on new plans.
The district’s building committee has proposed a 9,300-square-foot, steel-framed, three-bay building, with 14-foot-high doors. Part of the cost is due to a requirement that the building be able to survive natural disasters.