HALLOWELL — Less than a week after an anonymous donor pledged up to $1 million for construction of a new fire station, Hallowell officials were still wrapping their heads around the steps to be taken in the coming months to make the station a reality.

“We, as a city, have a lot to do because there are several parameters attached to the gift, and there’s a very aggressive timeline,” Mayor Mark Walker said Friday. “But it’s all very exciting.”

The first step happened during a public hearing Thursday, when the City Council unanimously voted to rescind their late January decision to move the Hallowell Fire Department to a shared, yet-to-be-built station in Farmingdale. The hearing was the result of a petition circulated by Stephen Langsdorf that forced the council to revisit its choice to forgo contracting fire services with Augusta and instead lease space in Farmingdale.

The city must decide by April 20 whether to accept the money, build the station at Stevens Commons and enter into a binding obligation to build the station by June 20.

City Manager Nate Rudy and Walker are hoping to meet with Stevens Commons owner and developer Matt Morrill in the coming days to discuss building the fire station somewhere on his 54-acre property at the top of Winthrop Street. Morrill acquired the property from the state last April.

In October, former Hallowell Fire Chief Mike Grant proposed building a new public safety facility, including a fire station, on the campus, and Morrill said reconstructing the campus’ Erskine Building as part of a multi-phase project was an option.

Rudy said the generous gift puts all options back on the table.

“This is an amazing gift to the city, and we are very surprised to be involved,” Morrill said Friday in a statement.

Morrill has asked the city for $600,000 to improve the infrastructure on the campus, and the request is part of a $2.36 million bond package voters will decide in an April 28 special election.

Walker’s goal is to have the new fire station completed before next year’s Water Street reconstruction project begins in April.

That would give the city about 12 months to go through the design, permitting and approvals, bidding and construction process.

Another concern city officials will have to address is the number of historic buildings on the Stevens Commons campus. Walker said some are listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, and with that comes parameters when it comes to reconstruction or new construction near those buildings.

Hallowell’s council holds its next regular meeting April 10, and Rudy said he would expect the council will vote on whether to accept the anonymous pledge at that meeting.

Jason Pafundi can be contacted at 621-5663 or at:

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