The Saco City Council plans to take up a volatile proposal Monday night to tear down the city’s old main fire station, but opponents of the move want a stay of execution.

The council has had the station, which was built in the Depression, on the market since spring, seeking someone to buy it for $479,000.

Opponents of the demolition said the fact that no one has offered that much indicates the council put too high a price on the building, especially since fixing structural problems and renovating the building would likely cost almost as much as the sale price.

But Councilor Marston Lovell said the lack of a bid in the neighborhood of the price indicates that it would be better to tear down the building and use the lot on Thornton Avenue, just off Saco’s Main Street, for downtown parking.

“It’s been a long process,” Lovell said, noting that the fire department relocated to a new building in April. “We’re trying to bring this to a culmination.”

The council’s agenda calls for a discussion of selling or reusing the building, but the only motion drafted with a councilor’s name on it is Lovell’s measure to award a demolition contract.

“We’d like a chance to find a new use,” said Kyle Bolduc of Saco Spirit, a downtown revitalization group. “Our last choice is to have the building demolished.”

Bolduc said the group has put in several proposals for grants that could be used to help renovate the building and thinks seven months isn’t a very long time to look for someone to buy a firehouse with a leaky roof and other issues.

He said Saco Spirit has even suggested using the firetruck bays for a farmer’s market, even if that only brings in enough money to keep the lights on.

Bolduc said Saco Spirit agrees with demolition advocates that the building shouldn’t be allowed to sit empty and deteriorate. But that point is still off in the future, he said.

The opponents of demolition have an advocate in Mark Johnston, the incoming mayor, but he might not even get to vote on the matter because he doesn’t take office until next month.

“It doesn’t make sense to demolish it,” Johnston said. “There’s no need to move this forward so quickly in light of a new administration coming in that may have different ideas. Something doesn’t smell good here.”

The council indicated it wasn’t really interested in selling the building by setting the price so high, Johnston said, and hasn’t demonstrated that parking is in such demand that it should tear down a historic building to make more room.

But Lovell said that while he’s open to any strong arguments in favor of delay, he hasn’t heard anything so far that has swayed him from thinking that the council needs to make a decision — and right now, demolition seems like the best option to him.

“It’s a very important piece of property,” Lovell said. “I think there are people who think we are taking way too long.”

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: [email protected]