Bernardston fire station committee considers new properties

  • The current Bernardston Fire Department, at 18 Church St. RECORDER FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Recorder Staff
Monday, December 05, 2016

BERNARDSTON — At the request of residents, the Fire Station Expansion Committee is considering other properties where they could build a new fire station.

During a Nov. 15 public forum where the committee and architects shared possible designs, residents proposed purchasing a new lot to build a larger station that would accommodate the department far into the future as equipment specifications and staffing needs grow and change.

Since then, the committee has looked into three properties that are for sale: a 1.28 acre lot at 1 Brattleboro Road for $175,000, a 5.62 acre lot at 23 Kringle Drive for $695,000 and a 3.5 acre lot at 1 Northfield Road for $595,000.

Due to the drastic difference in pricing, some committee members considered during a Wednesday meeting whether the two larger properties would be too expensive for taxpayers. However, the first property invited its own considerations.

“You’d be pretty limited to what size building you’d put in there,” Fire Chief Peter Shedd said of the Brattleboro Road property.

The property, which is just west of the current station at 18 Church St., is a residential lot which was the site of the Bernardston Inn at the turn of the century, followed by the New England House until it was destroyed by fire. Demolishing the existing building would lend an additional cost, and the current septic system would likely not be useable. Because some of the property is on wetlands, the committee considered how much it might cost to bring in fill versus purchase a more expensive, but shovel-ready property.

“If you go over by Kringle Drive, there’s definitely no wetland issues there,” Shedd noted.

The other two lots are adjacent to each other in a commercial/industrial area. As they are more removed from the town center, committee members noted the activities of the fire department, including trainings and late-night responses, would be less likely to disrupt residents.

Considering the many pros and cons of each property, the committee decided to seek consultation from architects at Stevens & Associates, the engineering and architecture firm overseeing the planning. The committee voted unaminously to spend $3,000 to have an assessment done on the land next to the fire station, and inquire about the cost to potentially survey the other two properties as well.