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Whiting to spend nearly $400,000 to refurbish two municipal buildings

WHITING — Whiting residents have agreed to pay extra property taxes over the next 20 years in order to bankroll a major overhaul of both their municipal fire station and town shed.
Residents on Aug. 14 voted 65-24 in favor of floating a 20-year bond for a combined total of $395,000 to do the work.
The Aug. 14 referendum was actually the second time Whiting residents endorsed the two projects. Back on June 26, citizens voted 40 to 22 to support the fire station project, and 34 to 28 to remove the current town shed and replace it with a new structure.
But there was an error in the warning for the June 26 vote, and town officials asked residents to affirm the referendum during the primary elections on Aug. 14, according to Town Clerk Gale Quenneville.
Whiting selectboard Chairman Bob Wood said of the work was badly needed on the two buildings that have delivered key services to Whiting residents through the years.
“This has been a long time coming,” Wood said.
The north end of the Whiting Fire Station is in particularly bad shape and dates back 65 years, when it was used as part of a creamery at a time when there was rail service through town, according to an informational flyer sent to local residents prior to the bond vote.
The town has added to the structure and fixed it periodically to keep it useful to the volunteer fire department, according to Selectman Steve Quenneville.
“They revamped it as best they could,” Quenneville said.
But the building now requires a major makeover if is to continue as a fire station, officials said. Among other things, it needs deeper bays to accommodate longer and more sophisticated fire trucks.
THE WHITING FIRE station. 
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
The fire station project will involve:
•  A complete tear-down of the three bays on the left-hand side (north end) of the building.
•  Construction of three new bays and installation of a new roof over station meeting room. 
•  A back-up generator to allow the building to be used as an emergency shelter.
A combined total of around 2,340 square feet of the building is to be replaced, according to the town’s informational flyer.
The estimated cost of the fire station project is $194,000, with work likely to begin next year, according to Wood.
Meanwhile, the town shed has become too small to accommodate some municipal equipment, according to town officials, and plans call for a new 2,520-square-foot, $185,000 building that will allow key municipal equipment to be stored and repaired indoors. Construction could wait until 2020, according to Wood.
Quenneville outlined the current problem.
“(The shed) is basically too small for the town truck when the plow is (attached),” he said. “The problem is, you can’t work on it indoors.”
He noted the lack of space means the town’s loader currently has to spend a lot of time outdoors, thus affecting its service life.
“The road commissioner’s farm was our repair shop,” Quenneville said, noting the town recently lost that convenience when the commissioner sold his farm.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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