NORTH STONINGTON — The town’s existing fire station on Route 2 could house the recreation department and economic development offices after the new emergency services center opens in the summer.
“We have been talking with leadership of the fire department about opportunities there,” First Selectman Mike Urgo said.
The proposal would have the recreation department and the Economic Development Commission move from their offices in the Holly Green shopping center to the fire station, which is directly across from the new facility being constructed at 25 Rocky Hollow Road. The Holly Green space is described as a commercial condominium.
The North Stonington Volunteer Fire Company would lease the current station, constructed in 1947, to the town, under a proposed memorandum of agreement between both entities. Selectmen approved the document Tuesday night. It must still be reviewed and approved by the fire company and the North Stonington Ambulance Association.
The town, in turn, would sell off the space in Holly Green and use the proceeds to renovate the current fire station space.
The town would be responsible for all costs of running and maintaining the building, Urgo said. Revenue from a leased cellphone tower on the land would continue to go to the fire company, which would maintain ownership of the station as well. The town would pay for all utilities at the station and insure the buildings.
North Stonington would lease the new $6.36 million emergency services building to the fire company and ambulance association for $1 annually.
The fire company and ambulance association would be responsible for its upkeep.
Urgo said there’s also potential for new revenue by using the old fire station, through more recreation programs and rentals for special events.
“As everyone knows, we never have enough community space for all the things we have going on in town,” he said.
Urgo also wants to move voting from the cramped meeting room in the new Town Hall to the station.
“It’s always very congested down here, and parking is always an issue,” he said. “Plus, we wouldn’t have to close Town Hall anymore when we have votes.”
Work on the old fire station would involve bringing it into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, and replacing the tiled floor, Urgo said. New signage and facade work might also be done.
Selling the Holly Green condo space would have to go before the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission for approval.
Urgo proposes a one-year lease of the station.
“It’s going to be new to both parties,” he said. “I want to be able to revisit things after a year, then we’ll sign a long-term lease.”