AMESBURY – Nearly three years after it was initially approved by the City Council, construction on the $2.4 million fire station renovation is finally set to begin.
Mayor Thatcher Kezer said yesterday that he has signed a contract with New England Builders and Contractors, Inc. of Methuen to conduct the renovations. Kezer said a specific construction schedule will be developed over the next couple of weeks, and residents can expect to see work begin within the next 30 days.
The winning bid came in at $1,630,000, with an additional price of $865,000 for a proposed expansion to the building. Since that figure would have put the city over its $2.4 million appropriation, Kezer said the city isn’t going to pursue the expansion, which he said isn’t needed given the extra space opened up by the recent renovation and reopening of the Elm Street Fire Station.
Despite the elimination of the fire station expansion, the city is still expected to tear down the adjacent Town Hall Annex building in the coming weeks. The Annex is the oldest municipally-owned building in Amesbury.
Kezer had originally intended to tear down the 176-year-old brick structure because the expansion would have come within three feet of the Annex. A consultant’s report on the expansion projected that the proximity of the two buildings would have increased the cost of the addition by hundreds of thousands of dollars in construction costs.
The Amesbury Historical Commission voted in March of 2011 to put a hold on demolishing the annex by deeming it “preferably preserved.” By issuing the preferably preserved status, the Historical Commission put an 18-month hold on the demolition to give the city a chance to sell the building so it could be moved to another location and preserved. Kezer said the city tried to do that, but nobody was interested.