Marina expresses interest in buying old Winnisquam fire station

BELMONT — Winnisquam Marine has sent a letter to selectmen expressing an interest in buying the former Winnisquam Fire Station.

Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin told selectmen last night she and the town counsel had gotten the letter earlier in the day and noted the town had initially offered the nearby business an opportunity to bid on it.

"It's our right to choose or refuse," said Beaudin.

No dollar figure was discussed last night. Beaudin said the communication was not a bid but an indication that the owners of the marina may be interested in purchasing the property from the town.

The property is on Sunset Drive and is directly opposite the marina. It is landlocked.

The now volunteer Winnisquam Fire Company was disbanded in 2006 and 2007 and, despite occasional but regular interest from residents of the Lochmere section of Tilton and the lakefront area of Sanbornton, the Belmont selectmen have said they have no interest in reusing the property as a fire station.

One half of the building is now home to the Belmont Department of Parks and Recreation and one half is used by the Belmont Fire Department for storage.

Beaudin said the Parks Department is preparing to relocate to the Belmont Mill and said last night there are a few things the town needs to do to the historic mill before the department can move.

A study prepared by a specially-convened Belmont Property Assessment Committee said the Winnisquam station was originally built in 1940 and has seen a number of additions and renovations. When the current Belmont Fire Station opened in 1995, there was some discussion about relocating the Police Department there, however in 2000 police added 1,250-square-feet to the existing station.

The committee looked at all town property except the library, the police department, and the current fire station on Route 140.

The report said the walls of the station show signs of decay or "carbonation", some of the mortar joints around the building are beginning to looses and the metal doors are beginning to rust. The roof needs to be re-shingled and the low-sloped roof over the kitchen needs to be completely rebuilt.

The committee said the interior of the building is in fair condition and the combustion chamber on the furnace is cracked.

"With the current condition of the Winnisquam Fire Station the Property Assessment Committee feels there is greater value in selling the building than there is repairing it," reads the recommendation.

If Winnisquam Marine is interested enough to make an offer on the property, Beaudin said it would be evaluated and placed on a warrant article at a future Town Meeting for a vote.