New Fire Station Cost Estimate Close to $32 Million

April 29, 2024
Conceptual Rendering by Kaestle Boos Associates Courtesy of: https://www.bedfordma.gov/696/New-Fire-Station-Project

The estimated price tag for Bedford’s proposed new fire station is almost $32 million.

Lead architect Sean Schmigle presented a cost breakdown to several town department heads as well as many board and committee members at a meeting late Monday afternoon.

A bond to finance the long-planned project will be on a Special Town Meeting warrant on June 10 or 11. (The Select Board was scheduled to set the date later Monday.)

If the Select Board decides to propose excluding the project debt from the state-mandated annual tax levy limit, a majority vote also will be required on a September election ballot.

Monday’s meeting is the latest milestone in a process that began with a space-needs study in 2015. The planned location of 139 The Great Road was cleared after a 3-2 vote by the Historic District Commission in March.

Actual construction costs, estimated at $15,230,000, comprise less than half of the total.

“Soft costs” such as testing, security, technology, communication, and peer reviews are about $6 million. Other major components are site development ($3,530,000), contingencies ($2,950,000), and contractor “general conditions” ($2,450,000). The total estimate is $31,933,000.

Asked by Finance Committee member Abbie Seibert about the reliability of the estimates, Schmigle said that although construction costs have stabilized after a dramatic post-pandemic jump, “it’s kind of a crystal-ball scenario.”

The estimate includes $430,000 as a three percent escalation factor for additional increases.

The timetable presented by Schmigle calls for awarding a bid in the first quarter of 2025 with construction starting soon thereafter.

Bedford Town Manager Matt Hanson told the committees that an interest rate of 3.75 percent is projected over the 30-year bond. A fixed-debt structure would result in a payment of about $1.9 million each year. A declining debt model has higher costs in the early years, but ultimately would save about $3.5 million, he said.

Although no one suggested that the project be scaled, several Finance Committee members and other speakers expressed concerns about the impact on spending of excluding the debt. The Select Board expects to make that decision at its meeting on May 13.

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