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Conway board seeks public safety complex site review

Recorder/Paul Franz
The Conway Planning Board is asking for a site review for the Highway Department/Fire Department building.

Recorder/Paul Franz The Conway Planning Board is asking for a site review for the Highway Department/Fire Department building.

CONWAY — The Planning Board has requested the town to consider a site review for a public safety complex for the next special town meeting.

The feasibility review would determine whether the town could house the ambulance, Police and Fire departments at its current highway-fire department building on Route 116 adjacent to the South River.

The review could also determine whether the complex has to find a new location, possibly on the Rose property off Shelburne Falls Road, according to Planning Board Chairwoman Diane Poland.

“We want to be able to know whether it can stay where it is,” said Poland.

Though the building contends with well and sewer issues and rests along a weakened retaining wall on the South River, Poland said some townspeople argue that the building has functioned for 40 years and should continue to.

If the complex stays put, it could leave open other options for the Rose property, which has been eyed for a variety of uses in recent years.

While there is no date for a special town meeting, the Selectboard at its Monday meeting agreed to consider an article submitted by the Planning Board for a future town meeting.

Poland did say the request could wait until the annual town meeting in May, but it would be more prudent to get the study done to move forward in the development of the 11-acre Rose property.

Last winter, the Planning Board held a meeting asking townspeople to develop ideas on how to use the long-vacant farmland. The two most popular ideas, Poland said, were senior housing and a building for fire and ambulance services.

So far, the town has received a wetlands delineation on the Rose property and the Burkeville property by the existing fire-highway garage.

Using $9,500 in Community Preservation Fund money, the Housing Committee also had a site analysis done on the property by Berkshire Design Group of Northampton to determine whether it could have senior housing. Peter Wells, co-founder of the design group, said housing would be appropriate on the site, Poland said. The project design and proposal for a housing complex is expected for the fall, Poland said.

In the meantime, the town also approved moving the Highway Department from the building on Route 116 it shares with the Fire Department to land behind the salt shed on the property of the Conway Grammar School.

The townspeople approved $175,000 for engineering designs and permitting for the project in May.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
kmckiernan@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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