AMHERST – A major fire in downtown Amherst two weeks ago has officially claimed another building.
Amherst has accepted a $550,000 settlement offer from its insurer for the police department building on Victoria Street and will demolish the structure that suffered extensive smoke and water damage when the Windsor and Black Block buildings were destroyed in a fire that left around 40 homeless and destroyed a business.
“It is recommended that council accept the offer of settlement, place the proceeds in a capital reserve fund for police facility purposes and move to demolish the building as soon as possible,” Amherst CAO Greg Herrett told council during a special meeting on Friday.
Soon after the fire was reported, police were evacuated to temporary quarters at the fire department. The town is in the process of setting up the police department in the top floor of the Four Fathers Memorial Library that was vacated earlier this year when the adult high school program was cancelled.
Herrett said a restoration company had been on site since the fire removing, inventorying, cleaning or discarding the contents of the building as the town moved through the process of documenting its insurance claim and mitigating any further loss. The company also performed some work remediating the water and smoke damage to the building.
Herrett said the town was notified earler this week by its adjustors that damages to the building would cost between $500,000 and $600,000 to repair.
“As soon as this offer was put forward instructions were given to cease all remediation work at the police station until the offer could be finalized and approved,” the CAO said.
The fair market value of the land and the building is less than $160,000 and a rough estimate of the fair market value of a similarly sized and located building in the area would be about $250,000.
Herrett said accepting the offer makes sense since the town was already considering the long-term options for relocating the department.