Demolition of the Cash Corner Fire Station on 360 Main St in South Portland began on Thursday, Feb. 20. A new facility is expected to be finished by April 2021, said Captain Robb Couture. Courtesy South Portland Fire Department

SOUTH PORTLAND — The 50-year-old Cash Corner Fire Station no longer sits in the center of the city, as demolition on the building began Thursday, Feb. 20.

The city of South Portland will replace the building with a 17,000-square-foot station that is expected to be finished by April 2021, said Capt. Robb Couture, public information officer.

Located on 360 Main St., the new facility will have more space for the South Portland Fire Department’s crew, vehicles, and will provide additional services that the old station couldn’t house, like a classroom space, he said.

Couture said voters had approved the replacement station in June of 2019, after the city council decided that renovations to the existing station would have cost just as much as rebuilding.

According to a 2019 article in The Forecaster by David Harry, the new facility was estimated to cost around $7.5 million, $6 million funded through bonds that will be paid over the course of 20 years.

Built in 1970, the former Cash Corner Fire Station was constructed during an energy crisis and had no ventilation, said Couture. Because of the stagnant air, mold began to grow, which the crew discovered in 2016.

In 2017, consulting company Sebago Technics evaluated the property, said Couture. Because mold works like asbestos, he explained, simply trying to clean the spores wouldn’t work, as they would then get into the air, potentially causing health problems.

“I think the public attitude overall was positive,” said Couture. “They want us to have a new building. The city council apologized that we were in a building in this condition. Cancer’s a big concern for fire department anyway, so we don’t need a station that has health hazards.”

Members of the public expressed support and nostalgia on the department’s Facebook page, where a post on Feb. 20 saying goodbye to the old station received 223 likes and 44 shares.

“Lots of great memories there,” said commenter Penny Blake. “My dad was stationed there.”

Another comment from Tom Haskall said, “I went from the old Cash Corner Station to the new one in August 1970 Great station and district to work in during the big growth years in the Mall area.”

Courtesy South Portland Fire Department

 

Courtesy South Portland Fire Department

“It was definitely unique,” said Couture. “Because it was made in the ’70s — It looked like it should have been in an episode of “The Brady Bunch,” like out in Southern California. It was recognizable.”

Besides mold, space was an issue, he said. One office was about the size of a bathroom.

The new facility will have two floors, added Couture. The living space for the crew as well as the services the station can provide to the community will double, and an additional classroom or training space will be added.

“We’ll be able to do training, and that station being the middle of the city will be a great addition,” said Couture.

For the time being, the crew and trucks have relocated to the fire department’s Western Avenue Station, on James Baka Drive, Couture said.

“We’re looking forward to getting our building back there,” he said. “We’ll try to update the public on social media.”

There are two other fulltime stations, said Couture. The Western Avenue Station has been complete since 2015 and the Central Fire Station, located on Broadway, was built in 1950.

According to Couture, the city of South Portland is conducting a survey on the Central Fire Station and other public service buildings to find out what the best course of action would be when thinking about remodeling or renovating.

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