By Curt Peterson, Standard Correspondent
BARNARD – At their open house on Saturday, Jan. 21, Barnard Volunteer Fire Department Chief Scott Mills presented a gift of appreciation with a few simple but sincere words to Architect Phil Maynes.
“Welcome,” Mills said to the large crowd. “This building is everything the Fire Department hoped for and more, and it couldn’t have been built without the generosity of this man.”
Mills then handed Maynes a small envelope. “This is from the firemen as a small token of our appreciation, so you and Judy can take a little trip.”
The new Barnard Volunteer Fire and Rescue Building next to Town Hall was completed ahead of schedule, under budget and to everyone’s satisfaction at a cost of approximately $1.2 million.
Maynes and his wife Judy live on Silver Lake and plan to enjoy their 50th high school reunion this spring. They both grew up in Woodstock.
After graduation Maynes spent two years at Wentworth Institute in Boston, then three years at the University of Idaho finishing his five-year degree. Still single, he served a three-year apprenticeship with a residential architecture firm in Boulder Colorado.
To qualify for his licensing exam Maynes needed commercial experience, so he took a job with a firm in Burlington.
“The exam takes four days,” he recalls. “For the 12-hour design project portion I had to design a postal training center. I don’t think I did a very good job, but it was accepted.”
He and Judy moved to Barnard in 1989, to live in a beautifully renovated cottage that once belonged to his aunt. From here Maynes enjoyed a successful career designing residential projects.
In 2011 Tropical Storm Irene changed things. Barnard didn’t suffer as much as other towns, but the selectmen set up an emergency logistical center in the old firehouse on Rte. 12 to manage recovery and rescue operations.
“There had been talk about needing a new firehouse before,” Maynes said, “but Irene made everyone realize the old facility was inadequate.”
The firemen asked Maynes to design a new firehouse that would serve as home for the 28 Barnard Fire and Rescue volunteers and an emergency services facility.
“I didn’t know how to build a fire station,” Maynes said. His father had been a fireman in Woodstock for 30 years, and Maynes visited as a boy. “Other than that, I had never been inside a fire station.”
He visited the old firehouse, measured the space and trucks, which barely fit inside the building.
Maynes met with the firemen several times, creating lists of their needs for the new facility, including a gear room, full kitchen, and a meeting/training room for 30 people, among other things.
“We told him what we wanted,” said Chief Mills, “and he would come back with a drawing. Then we’d make more suggestions and he would incorporate them, and back and forth.”
Mills has been a member of the BVFD for 40 years, 30 as chief. Assistant Chief Rob Tracy has similar tenure.
Once they agreed on a floor plan he started to design the building up from there.
He made a scale model of the first proposed building, which is his favorite part of this job. Mike Willis, of Willis
Consulting Engineers, did core samples on the site, finding a deep ravine full of detritus unsuitable as a building base. Maynes did a second design, siting the building far from the offending fill material.
Maynes didn’t know about commercial building codes and state fire safety codes, and Barnard’s clerk-of-the-works Charlie Davis became invaluable. Davis had worked for E. F. Wall Associates, Inc., who won the firehouse contract, and is familiar with both the rules and the players.
“Charlie was there six hours a day, making detailed notes, taking photographs, consulting with everyone,” Maynes said. “He was extremely helpful.”
Davis’s contract compensated him up to $60,000, but he set a personal limit $50,000, which, Select Board Assistant Preston Bristow confirmed, was all Davis billed the town for. Maynes says Davis still comes to Barnard to check minor unfinished details.
Maynes won’t estimate the hours he logged on the project, but says the bidding process took up the lion’s share of his donated time.
“Among eight bidders, some wanted to suggest certain changes in the specifications,” Maynes says. “If we approved them, we had to pass them along to all the bidders. I put together a list of 20 answers ‘frequently asked questions,’ Judy scanned them, and I emailed them to everyone.”
Maynes said, “The E. F. Wall firm was great. They really took pride in their work and enjoyed the project. They were very impressed with the community.”
Maynes thinks most significant contribution is the name of the building. Originally the project was the “Emergency Services Facility.” Maynes thought this sounded like a medical clinic where people would go if they had a broken leg. When asked to design the signage, he used the term Barnard Volunteer Fire and Rescue Building.
“Nobody objected, so that’s how I ordered the sign,” he says. “And it stuck.”
Bristow, who monitored the project from the town offices next door, said, “Phil’s contribution was impressive. He’s gracious, a pleasant person to work with, he saved the town a lot of money, and he did a fine job.”
“Phil is a true, competent, team leader,” engineer Mike Willis says. “He has quiet confidence, and his humble disposition makes working with him a pleasure. He pays attention to detail, which shows in the final product.”
Chief Mills told the Vermont Standard, “You couldn’t ask for a better person to deal with – he is so congenial. The town of Barnard owes him a lot.”
This article first appeared in the January 25, 2018 edition of the Vermont Standard.