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Northfield EMS a signature away from its own station

Northfield's Emergency Medical Services is hoping the town approves its plans to move into the former Sunoco station at 41 Main Street, which closed in 1998.

Northfield's Emergency Medical Services is hoping the town approves its plans to move into the former Sunoco station at 41 Main Street, which closed in 1998. Purchase photo reprints »

NORTHFIELD — The town’s ambulance service is on its way to a new home in an old gas station if plans pass muster with the Finance Committee and Selectboard.

“All we need is a signature on the lease and we’re ready to go,” said Emergency Medical Services Chief Mark Fortier. “We hope to move in as early as Nov. 1.”

He has been in talks with property owner A.R. Sandri to work out a lease for the 41 Main St. Sunoco station, closed by Sandri in 1998.

Northfield EMS has been granted a change of use for the project. The Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously approved the change at a Monday meeting.

Fortier came before the Selectboard Tuesday to update them on the project. Board members said they would like to see the financials of the planned move before giving it their support. Board member Jack Spanbauer said he’d like the Finance Committee’s input before he’s ready to vote on the project.

“I think it’s a good idea, but we need to have the numbers,” he said.

Board member Dan Gray pointed out that a discussion of the move was not listed on Tuesday’s agenda, and that other residents may want to weigh in on. He asked that the discussion be postponed until it may be included in the board’s agenda.

Fortier said he sought the board’s tentative approval before his department meets with the Finance Committee on Oct. 15. He said he expects that the committee will want to know what the Selectboard thinks of the plan before signing off on it.

He hopes to receive the committee’s approval and bring the project back before the Selectboard the following night for a vote. However, if the Finance Committee requires the Selectboard’s approval before voting, the project could be delayed another month. The committee meets monthly, and there is no Selectboard meeting scheduled before the committee’s October meeting.

The board asked that Fortier submit the financial plan for the new headquarters to it at the same time as he gives it to the committee.

Deputy EMS Chief Randy Wheelock told the board that the department would be able to cover expenses for the move, as well as rent and utilities, with its enterprise fund. The EMS enterprise fund was set up so that the department could deposit money received for services into an account, and use that money for expenses rather than seeking an annual appropriation in the town’s budget.

“We wouldn’t even bring up the project if it wasn’t something our budget could support,” said Wheelock. “It will be enough to support it and turn a profit, too.”

Fortier said he has worked out a low-cost lease with Sandri, but was not yet ready to name its price.

Wheelock said several members of the community have come to Fortier and him to offer their help with the project.

“Several people have said ‘give me a paintbrush, or tell me what else I can do to help make this happen,’” he said. Wheelock said general contractors, plumbers, and electricians have also volunteered their services. If all goes according to plan, he said, the department will honor those who helped by way of a mural in its new headquarters.

Fortier said Sandri currently uses the building for storage, but the company is ready to clean it out as soon as the lease is signed.

Wheelock said the building, which measures 50 by 30 feet and has two garage bays, has plenty of room to house the town’s single ambulance, hold department-wide meetings for its 27 members, and give the chief an office. It would also give the department room for a second ambulance in the future.

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

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