, Newburyport, MA

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April 17, 2014

Fire station project delayed

AMESBURY —The completion of the School Street fire station upgrades will have to wait another week or more as National Grid finishes their own upgrades to the building.

“A lot of progress has been made on this service upgrade, but there still are a lot of items that have to be done before full completion, which includes the actual electrical work,” National Grid spokeswoman Debra Drew said.

“We have been working with the city over the last couple of weeks to get the work done as quickly as possible, but there still remains a lot to do. We will continue to work with the city toward completion as soon as possible.”

The project began as roof repairs after the 80-plus-year-old building was damaged by the Mother’s Day storm of 2006 and the ice storms of 2008. From there, it blossomed into a $3 million renovation and upgrade that was expected to be completely finished, other than cosmetic repairs, next week.

But the timetable has shifted.

“We need delivery of a transformer,” Drew said. “There is some trench work and tree work that still needs to be done. There is some underground work that needs to be done. There is still quite a bit of outstanding work. But again, we recognize the urgency of the job and are working to get things done just as quickly as we can.”

Originally, $600,000 was appropriated by town officials to fix the Mother’s Day roof damage in 2008, then the ice storms hit that December, and mold was found once the work began. That discovery required that the building undergo a major renovation to remove the mold as well as comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, prompting an additional $2.4 million to be appropriated in 2010.

An elevator was also planned to be installed, initiating the demolition of a 174-year-old Town Annex next door to the fire station. But the elevator plans were scrapped along the way, after the long-dormant Elm Street fire station was reactivated.

The School Street station has remained open during the renovation and the Elm Street station will now remain open as well.

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