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Work on new Watertown fire station set to start in July

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Construction is expected to finally start next month on a new fire station on the western side of the town of Watertown.

Fire district commissioners voted 4-0 last Wednesday to build a $1,869,941 fire station at Route 12F and County Route 202 that includes four bays but is 10,000 square feet, down from a proposed 13,000 square feet.

To reduce costs, the fire station will not have a second story or a multipurpose/training room and will reduce the number of “bunk-in” beds from nine to four, said Ralph A. Green Jr., building co-chairman and first assistant chief.

In May, bids for the construction project came back too high, causing organizers to scramble to change the plans. The low bid opened in May was about $2.3 million, Mr. Green said.

“For the past six weeks, we worked very hard,” Mr. Green said. “We’re moving forward.”

The project was delayed a year to avoid starting work during the winter as engineers made changes to the first set of architectural drawings. Fire officials originally hoped to start the project in spring 2011.

Now the target date is July 2, but “realistically” it might be a little later than that, Mr. Green said, adding it was originally projected to cost about $1.5 million. It should take about six months to complete construction.

The new facility will replace the 25-year-old Fire Station 3 at 20312 Route 3 in front of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services property. Fire officials have maintained that a larger station is needed because of growing development on that side of town.

The fire station will continue to include a bunk-in program in hopes of attracting Jefferson Community College fire science students and other new volunteers to sleep at the station and go to fires.

The general contractor will be Con Tech Building Systems, Gouverneur, which submitted a $1,299,000 bid. The additional $570,941 will pay for contracts for plumbing, $137,000 to Burns Brothers, Potsdam; electrical, $172,000 to B&D Enterprises, Castorland; heating, ventilation and air conditioning, $207,241 to Hyde-Stone Mechanical, Watertown; and a contingency account.

Last year, residents approved the project 143-129. It will cost a homeowner about $25 in new taxes annually to pay for the station. Opponents argued that the building was going to cost too much.

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