The Brunswick Central Fire Station, shown in this rendering from the corner of Pleasant and Webster Streets, will will be about triple the size of the existing Central Fire Station, which is fewer than 10,000 square feet, and have room for office spaces, living quarters and seven vehicle bays. Photo courtesy of Kenneth Brillant

BRUNSWICK — The Brunswick Planning Board unanimously approved the sketch plan for the new Brunswick Central Fire Station on Wednesday, clearing the way for the next steps in the $13.5 million project.

According to the design presented Wednesday, the new station will sit on a 2.4-acre lot at the corner of Pleasant and Webster streets, where Aging Excellence and Residential Mortgage Services currently stand. The two buildings will be demolished to make way for the new fire station.

The one-story brick fire station, designed by WBRC Architects, will be about three times the size of the existing Central Fire Station, which is fewer than 10,000 square feet. It will house office space, living quarters and seven vehicle bays, according to Paul Monyok, a civil engineer at WBRC Architects.

Monyok said the building will face Pleasant Street — U.S. Route 1 — and emergency vehicles will exit the building onto Webster Street rather than onto busy Pleasant Street.

Brunswick Fire Chief Kenneth Brillant said he’s pleased with the location of the new station because it gives first responders the ability to quickly access multiple parts of Brunswick.

He said he doesn’t think the near-constant traffic on Pleasant Street will be an issue for firefighters when responding to a call because they’re able to control most of the traffic lights in Brunswick from their trucks, including the one on the corner of Pleasant and Webster streets.

The corner of Webster and Pleasant streets in June, which will eventually be the site of the new central fire station. Aging Excellence and Residential Mortgage Services will relocate. Hannah LaClaire/The Times Record

Between July 2018 and June 2019, the Brunswick Fire Department responded to 4,436 emergency calls, 3,415 of which were for emergency medical services and 1,021 calls for fires and alarms, according to Brillant.

The most recent traffic data from the Maine Department of Transportation shows that section of Pleasant Street saw 4,660 cars daily in 2016.

Planning Board member Kelly Matzen raised concern about the intersection of River Road, Webster Street and Pleasant Street because River Road and Webster Street don’t form a right angle, making it cumbersome for large vehicles like fire engines.

“It’s a very bizarre intersection,” said Matzen. “Every time I’m there I find it uncomfortable because it’s not lined up correctly.”

Brillant said he believes emergency vehicles will be able to navigate the intersection without issue.

Monyok said there are no current plans to alter the intersection of River Road, Pleasant Street and Webster Street.

Fine details of the station will be further hammered out in the project’s final plan, which Brunswick Planning Director Matt Panfil anticipates will be completed in about a month. The project can go to bid once all permits are approved. He said he expects construction to begin in Spring 2021.

The new fire station’s $13.5 million price tag includes the $11 million cost of the building and land, as well as a roughly $300,000 bay that had initially been taken out by Brillant during an earlier price cut. The project will carry a future 2.1 percent tax increase held steady for 15 years, meaning a $79.95 annual tax payment for a property assessed at $200,000.

The new station will replace the current, 101-year-old facility at 21 Townhall Place, which has a myriad of safety, practicality and code issues.

“The station was built in 1919 for horse-drawn firefighting equipment, and over time the trucks have gotten bigger and heavier,” said Brillant. “The trucks can barely fit and the vehicle bay floors have had to be replaced so they can support the weight of the trucks.”

The building also doesn’t have a sprinkler system, storage space, room for training, the living quarters sometimes double as office spaces and the building isn’t ADA accessible, “which makes it difficult for us to interact with the public,” Brillant said.

Brillant said he’s glad the project is moving forward because “it has been a long time coming — about 40 years.”

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