August 16, 2018
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Renovation of historic rescue station to proceed despite sprinkler dispute

Submitted photo courtesy of the Portsmouth Herald
Submitted photo courtesy of the Portsmouth Herald
The northwest portion of the 1908 Wood Island Live Saving Station is seen under renovation in this file photo.
By Alex LaCasse, Portsmouth Herald

KITTERY, Maine — The Wood Island Life Saving Association received approval from the Planning Board for its shoreland development sketch plan during its regular meeting on Thursday night; paving the way for the final stages of the restoration of the 1908 U.S. Life Saving Service station to take place over the next two years.

Wood Island Life Saving Association, or WILSSA, was seeking approval on a BUSSE septic system and approval of docent quarters before the Maine Army National Guard comes to Kittery in June to spend 30 straight days, completing all interior construction, electricity, plumbing at the station, in addition to constructing the north sea wall, island pier and a restored shed to house ADA accessible bathrooms and generator.

WILSSA President Sam Reid said he was excited to begin the final stages of construction but was not pleased when he was informed roughly an hour before the meeting that a sprinkler system could be included as a condition of approval for the sketch plan despite WILSSA obtaining a permit from the state fire marshal.

“Wood Island station is happy to have successfully completed the planning process and work alongside the Maine National Guard this summer. However, it’s a process that could use improvement and we’re happy to provide our impressions and experience on how to help others in the future,” said Reid. “We understand there were personnel changes after we submitted our application in early September but there were plenty of frustrations along the way and it’s the process itself that bears review.”

Reid said the BUSSE system is essentially a small water treatment plan that will recycle and filter rain water and septic water back into the toilets and there will also be a desalination system to trap water and relies on reverse-osmosis. As a condition of approval, WILSSA will be required to provide a report on gallons per-day input into the septic system to the code enforcement officer at a frequency of his choosing.

“We want to complement Code Enforcement Officer Bob Marchi for the work he has spent helping us with the project,” said Reid.

Planning Board Vice Chairwoman Karen Kalmar said she wanted to include the sprinkler system as a condition of approval for the sketch plan that would detail the restored station’s fire prevention system.

“If we could put a condition of approval on the plan that somehow specifies there will be a functioning sprinkler system at all times,” said Kalmar. “As a member of the community, I’d hate to pass that plan without a requirement.”

Reid said he would prefer a dry-fire prevention system because of the somewhat limited water the BUSSE system would create.

“What we’d like to do is to commit to work with the code enforcement officer and the fire chief and work through whatever the details are because to say sprinkler is pretty wide open,” Reid said on Thursday. “One hundred percent we’re in agreement, what I think we’re struggling with is a process question. If we have to have a condition, let’s say a condition would be we’re going to (commit) to work through the details of whatever this system will be.”

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