NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 5, 2013

Fire station work set to begin

Historic city building to be demolished

(Continued)

Now that the 18-month hold is expired, the city has secured a demolition permit. Kezer said the building is in the way of the construction site, and he’d like to ultimately convert the area into additional parking.

He said if the building were to remain, the cost of maintaining it would become burdensome to the city. The city would also be required to update the building so it would be compliant with handicapped accessibility laws.

“If we attempted to do that, we’d have to put a lot more money into that building than it’s worth,” Kezer said. “And all we’d have is ADA compliant halls and bathrooms and no office space left.”

Steve Klomps, a member of the Historical Commission, said he was disappointed the Annex couldn’t be saved, but acknowledged that the city had at least attempted to sell the building.

“We would prefer that it stay, but there’s nothing we can do about it at this point,” Klomps said.

The fire station renovation project has been in the works since as far back as November of 2008, when the City Council approved $600,000 for improvements to the public safety building. The cost of the project greatly increased in 2010 when a roof leak caused a mold infestation, and the resulting repairs triggered requirements that the building be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA requires municipalities to become ADA compliant if they exceed expenditures of 30 percent of the building value in improvements to the property. Since the improvements made after the mold infestation surpassed that threshold, it became necessary to perform a complete renovation of the building to meet handicapped-access codes.

The city council authorized $2.4 million for the project in October of 2010, and since then Amesbury has spent $992,388 on the project, with some of the money going towards the Elm Street Fire Building renovation and several properties along School Street, according to invoice documents provided by the city.

“We are going to achieve all of the objectives that we stated at the beginning of the project, and based on the numbers we expect it to be under the appropriation,” Kezer said.

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