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New quarters for Northfield EMS

Dept. hopes to move into  Main Street space by Jan. 1

Recorder/Paul Franz
Randy Wheelock, the Assistant EMS Chief in Northfield, left, and Mark Fortier, the EMS Chief in Northfield, right, talk with Bob Cartelli of Toyota and Ford of Greenfield, who donated money to pay for doors and windows in the former Main St gas station that is being transformed in the new home for Northfield EMS.

Recorder/Paul Franz Randy Wheelock, the Assistant EMS Chief in Northfield, left, and Mark Fortier, the EMS Chief in Northfield, right, talk with Bob Cartelli of Toyota and Ford of Greenfield, who donated money to pay for doors and windows in the former Main St gas station that is being transformed in the new home for Northfield EMS. Purchase photo reprints »

NORTHFIELD — The town’s Emergency Medical Services Department has been busy turning a blighted Main Street property into a resource for the town.

Closed in 1998, the former Sunoco station and auto shop at 41 Main St., had fallen into disrepair. Its paint was cracked and peeling, its sign missing letters, parking lot turned to gravel after its storage tanks were pulled.

But the EMS Department is changing all that, as it renovates the building and prepares to move in. The department has been housed in the basement of the fire station, a cramped space it shares with the Fire Department’s storage, underneath a crumbling concrete ceiling.

“This will resolve our safety and space needs, while keeping the property on the tax rolls,” said EMS Chief Mark Fortier.

He said the department hopes to have the building ready for move-in by Jan. 1, and will hold an open house when it’s all fixed up.

Not only will the property continue to generate tax dollars, it’s not using any town funds for repairs, either.

The project is being worked on by volunteers, with materials funded through donations. Earlier this month, Bob Cartelli, owner of Ford and Toyota of Greenfield, stopped by with a check for $2,127 to replace the building’s doors and windows.

Lane Construction Co. also stopped by to talk about options for paving the gravel lot. That’s a ways off, though, as it will have to go through the permitting process and pass muster with the Conservation Commission because it is close to wetlands.

Kevin Gray of Northfield has offered his carpentry skills, Graves Concrete has volunteered its services, Kidder and Co. donated paint for the building, and Scott Allen Masonry is also donating services. Several anonymous, private donors have given money for materials.

Fortier said it’s hard to put a number on the labor and money donated, but was confident saying that more than $5,000 in work has been done to the building, with more to go.

Inmates sent to help by Sheriff Christopher Donelan have sped up progress significantly, said Fortier.

“We’re so far ahead because of the inmates. I can’t imagine where we’d be without them,” he said.

They’ve been there day in, day out, an average of four inmates working on the building at a time. Fortier said some of them have brought valuable skills.

“One of them is a skilled carpenter,” said Fortier. “He made forms for the mason, and fixed our doors and other things. Another guy has sheetrock experience — he’s done a tremendous job.”

Fortier said working with the inmates has been a pleasure; they’re happy to get out of their cells and do some good.

Progress made so far includes cleaning out the building, patching the interior walls, removing one of two bathrooms in the building, and grinding the damaged concrete flooring down flat. The to-do list includes plumbing, finish carpentry and moving some heating ducts.

Though Fortier said they should have new windows and doors installed and the interior finished this winter, the building won’t receive a facelift until the spring, when it’s warm enough for paint to adhere to the exterior.

Those interested in helping can contact EMS Chief Mark Fortier at 413 498-4540, or nfldems@verizon.net.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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