March 27, 2020
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Ellsworth takes tentative steps to use old school for fire station

ELLSWORTH, Maine — The city has begun taking the first steps to use a portion of the Moore School property as the site of a new fire station.

For about a year, a city committee had considered potential uses for the site once the pupils are moved to the new kindergarten through eighth grade school under construction and the property, including the Bryant E. Moore School, is turned over to the city. Officials are asking engineering companies to provide them with qualifications, a precursor to sending out a request for proposals to design the project.

The older portion of the school is a historic building and will not be torn down, according to City Manager Michelle Beal. The fire station project would occupy another portion of the 5-acre property around the ball fields.

“We’ve had a committee trying to figure out what to do with the property,” Beal said Tuesday. “We’ve thought for a while about a public safety building because of the location and the access to both State and Oak streets.”

Once the Fire Department is moved to the new location, Beal said, the city Police Department will be moved into the Fire Department area. The vacated Police Department area would be used for city needs, including offices, storage and meeting space.

Beal stressed that the project is still in the early stages and that it likely will be done in stages based on available grant funding. The actual request for proposals probably will go out this summer.

“Based on the availability of grant funds, the thought now is to put the fire station there for now and at a later date, it can be expanded to include the public safety portion of it,” she said.

Beal said the city hopes to rely on grant funding to cover most of the cost of the project and to avoid having the taxpayers bear the cost.

The city will keep the historic Moore school building and possibly the one-story addition to it. Beal said the city may seek proposals for the use of the building, similar to the process used with the old courthouse building.

City officials also are evaluating the Dr. Charles C. Knowlton School property for potential future uses. Pupils at that school also will move to the new school when it is ready. Although the process is not as far along as the Moore school site, Beal said a committee has been working with an engineer on its use as community green space, with picnic tables and a playground, and converting the building to a community building.

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