CONWAY — Concerned that the downturn in the economy caused by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic will impact voters’ willingness to pass their proposed $6.7 million new fire station project, commissioners of the North Conway Water Precinct have come up with a novel idea to help offset some costs of the station.
Once the pandemic passes, the idea is to make the upstairs living quarters of the spacious new station available for short-term rentals so the public can fulfill their dreams of experiencing what it’s like to be a firefighter.
“We think this will be a good revenue stream," primary project proponent/North Conway Water Precinct chair Suzanne Nelson.
"I mean, who hasn’t imagined the fun of waking to the alarm bells in the station just like real firefighters and riding down a fire pole to the waiting fire engines?" she continued.
"We’re also adding a slide to make it even more exciting,” said Nelson, who noted that the goal is to make the station a premier user-friendly attraction right in the middle of North Conway Village on Norcross Circle, located on the site of the existing 1960-built station, in between the Conway Scenic Railroad’s 1874 North Conway Train Station and the North Conway Country Club.
"Many who have seen the architect's renderings think it sort of looks like something out of Disney World, so that's what gave me the idea of making the station a new tourist attraction and available for short-term rentals to the public," Nelson shared with the Sun.
With the popularity of short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo, Nelson convinced fellow precinct commissioners John Santuccio and Bob Porter that this was the way to go to help finance the new fire station project given the uncertain times.
Santuccio and Porter then picked up the firehose and ran with it, so to speak. New embellishments they've asked architects Tower, Turret and Gable LLC of Manchester to add to the 30,000-square-foot building include:
-- A rooftop garden overlooking the golf course with "million-dollar views of the Moat mountains."
-- A rock-climbing wall ("the firefighters can use this also to stay in shape," Fire Chief Pat Preece added).
-- A temperature-controlled wine cellar in the basement (next to air-filtrated "clean" room where firefighters would keep their laundered uniforms provided by the station's concierge, who would also serve as the guests' front-desk clerk, Nelson said).
-- A private screening room with a dozen leather recliners and individual drink/snack coolers. ("This is actually for the firefighters to relax while catching up on their training videos, but the guests can use them, too," Nelson said.)
Asked to share his views, Chief Preece said as long as the new station is bigger than Conway Village’s, with or without the short-term rental platform and slide, he’s happy.
"But that's between you and me," he said.
The proposal is to go before voters at a special meeting April 1.