Sunday, July 14, 2024

A rendering of the new Assembly Square fire station. (Image: CambridgeSeven)

Funds for the lease of a new fire station – marking a milestone in its completion – was among the items handled Thursday at a quick meeting of Somerville’s City Council.

The council approved an appropriation of $171,969 from free cash – funds left over from previous fiscal years – for a new Assembly Fire Station’s first lease payment, due now that “the space is substantially complete,” staff said. No date was given for when the station goes into use.

Payments on the 30-year lease with Assembly Row, the city’s gleaming new high-rise neighborhood, were not included in the fiscal year 2024 budget because the city was unsure if the work would be done before fiscal year 2025, director of finance Edward Bean said. This payment goes just to the new fiscal year, July 1.

“We have to come before you with the free-cash flow for this first payment,” Bean said. “Of course in fiscal 2025, the budget will fully fund the annual lease payment” of $349,006. The rent then rises 2 percent each year.

The 10,000-square-foot fire station at Middlesex Avenue and Foley Street in Assembly Square will be the first new station in Somerville in more than a generation, “which will be reflected in the design,” according to the city. It’s fossil-fuel-free, with three glass bays as well as locker rooms, a fitness room, bunk rooms, meeting space and a kitchen.

The item was approved with nine councilors in favor and one opposed.

City Hall clock tower and roof

The council also heard updates on the budget process from councilor at large Jake Wilson, who chairs the Finance Committee.

The budget process started two weeks ago, he said, and the committee will be holding a public hearing on March 19 for budget priorities. The hearing will happen in person with a virtual option.

At the latest meeting, the committee recommended council approval for a West Branch library manager position and $650,000 for the restoration of the City Hall clock tower and roof – just part of the overall cost of the project, Wilson said.

“If you thought $650,000 is cheap to fix the clock tower and roof above us, you’re correct. We were informed that there’ll be some additional requests coming shortly to fund the rest,” Wilson said.