HANCOCK — Hancock voters at a special town meeting on Aug. 3 approved spending $244,150 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds on a road construction project on Grant Street.
The construction on Grant Street, which was done to rebuild the road after it had been washed out, was completed in April of this year. It was done by Tracy Brothers Construction. The culvert and road were repaired and raised to fix the damage.
The total cost of the repairs was $244,150, which was covered by the ARPA funding received by the town.
“We decided to use the [ARPA] money in that situation for that particular project, so we didn’t pass on any extra tax burden onto the town,” Selectman Jack Bridges said. “We actually have money on hand, so we can spend it for this cost.”
The motion to appropriate $244,150 for completion of the Grant Street project passed with 26 votes in favor and only one vote against.
After the vote, the Select Board held its regularly scheduled meeting, at which members heard from Fire Chief Chris Holmes on his proposal to put plans for a new fire station out for bid. This agenda item was brought before the board at its last meeting but was tabled.
Board members had several questions for Holmes about the specifics of the project. Selectman Bill Birdsall had concerns about the Fire Department’s tax status. The department is in the process of getting a new tax ID number, and Holmes is still waiting on a letter to be sent to the department confirming its new number.
Selectman Sean Jones spoke about the need for a new station.
“The town needs it, the Fire Department needs it, and they’re in the 18th century over there,” said Jones, referring to the current fire station having no running water, kitchen, bathroom or any other modern amenities.
Bridges asked whether the standards for fire stations differ depending on the size of the town in which a station is built. Holmes responded that all fire stations need to meet a certain standard.
“The codes don’t delineate between town size and population,” Holmes said. “We have to follow the same rules as Ellsworth, Bangor or Bucksport. There’s not a different set of rules because we’re volunteer.”
After discussion, Jones made a motion to give the Fire Department $99,059 to conclude design work on its plans and begin the bid process. The motion passed with only Birdsall voting against the motion.
The money for the bid process had previously been set aside for this purpose, but the Select Board needed to authorize the Fire Department to spend it. Holmes can now move forward with the next steps in the process of getting the fire station to the bidding stage.
“The architects are going to put together the final blueprints and specs,” Holmes said. “A contractor can look at those and determine what they need to do to build it.”
Holmes has already been working with the architects who designed the fire station in Harrington. He wants to use a similar plan as that station, but now will be able to put together a bid package and explore options for contractors.
It has been a long road for the Hancock Fire Department to get to this point. Plans to build a new fire station originally came to the board years ago. Holmes thanked current board members for their approval and support for allowing this process to begin.
“We thank the board for their support, and the town’s continuing support,” he said.