Three months after the Newcastle Fire Company’s initial recommendation of a $300,000-plus rescue-pumper to replace two aging trucks, the Company is changing tack.
The Newcastle Fire Co. now believes the 32-ft. by 8-ft. rescue pumper it hoped to purchase is “too cumbersome to operate on the majority of roads and private roads/driveways.”
The news arrived in an April 6 letter from Newcastle Fire Chief Clayton Huntley and Casey Stevens, President of the Newcastle Fire Co. Board of Trustees, to the Newcastle Board of Selectmen and the Newcastle Finance Committee.
In addition to the size constraints of the “rural setting,” the truck “came in way over expected budget,” exceeding a $283,575 federal grant application by almost $50,000.
The Newcastle Fire Co. Truck Committee is, instead, “in the process of acquiring some quotes/estimates on single purpose trucks,” namely a replacement for its 1979 Ford/FMC pumper.
“We’re going to try to come up with a request” for consideration at the Sat., June 11 Annual Town Meeting, Stevens said.
In other Fire Co. news, the Company is requesting $6000 to pay for health insurance for Huntley.
Selectman Ellen Dickens, at an April 11 meeting of the Newcastle Board of Selectmen, said the town should instead purchase health insurance for Huntley under its group plan with the Maine Municipal Association (MMA).
The plan in question costs $7142, Newcastle Town Administrator Ron Grenier said.
Dickens called it “an infinitely better deal” than anything Huntley could purchase on his own with the $6000.
Grenier sent a memo to the board of selectmen and the finance committee regarding the Fire Co.’s insurance policy for equipment and liability. According to the memo, the town stands to save $8689 (56 percent) if it switches to a different insurance provider.
All five residents have some connection to town politics.
Incumbent Ellen Dickens is running for reelection. Four other possible candidates have taken out nomination papers: Ben Frye, vice chairman of the Newcastle Land Use Ordinance Review Committee; Bob Martin, chief operating officer of Mattson Development; Raoul Nelson, a member of the Great Salt Bay School Committee and Tom Stevens, former Newcastle Fire Chief and a current member of the Newcastle Fire Co. Board of Trustees.
Martin, in his position as COO of Mattson Development, has been the company’s representative to the town in negotiations regarding the Newcastle Harbor House site, alternatively known as Newcastle Shores or the “elevator to nowhere.”
Nelson is also seeking reelection to the school committee, a position for which he is currently the sole candidate.
Newcastle Road Commissioner Steve Reynolds has said he hopes to see the eight-week project complete by July.
The Hagar bid is over $100,000 under the amount available for the project, Grenier said.
The town might spend a fraction of the surplus on repairs to a bridge on the South Dyer Neck Road.
The precise extent of the necessary repairs was unclear at press time.
In other business, the board reviewed an approximately $94,000 budget for 2011-12 joint public works operations with neighboring Damariscotta.
The board did not make recommendations, although Chairman Ellen McFarland and Selectman Lee Straw voiced support for the budget.