Town decides to build garage onto fire station

  • Building a new garage onto Bernardston’s current fire station would free up the rest of the building for offices and other uses, the Selectboard says. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 1/31/2019 11:35:07 PM

BERNARDSTON — Plans for a new fire station have gone from a new building on a new property to a metal garage attached to the department’s current building.

“It’s not going to be everything the Fire Department needs, but it’s going to be a hell of a lot better than what they have now,” Selectman Bob Raymond said.

The current fire station is so small that the town had to purchase specially designed firetrucks to fit inside, Fire Chief Pete Shedd said.

The idea now being discussed is to attach a new garage, large enough to fit four regularly sized firetrucks, onto the department’s current building in central Bernardston, freeing up the rest of the building for office space and other uses, Shedd said.

This is a reduction from the Fire Station Expansion Committee’s previous hopes that the town might purchase the Valley Concrete Property on Route 10 near Mount Hermon Road. The Selectboard voted against pursuing that property last summer, citing concerns over longer response times due to the location’s distance from central Bernardston.

Now the conversation seems mostly centered on financial concerns. At a meeting Monday, the Selectboard agreed that a $1 million grant from the state would cover most of the project, and that the town could likely support $250,000 to $300,000 on top of that.

“We realize the fire department needs something. All the townspeople realize that too. But the cost has to be reasonable,” Selectman Raymond said.

Concurrently, the Planning Board is preparing a set of design standards to present at this year’s Town Meeting, which would require new buildings to fit with the aesthetic style of the town, said Planning Board Chairwoman Chris Wysk. If the new rules are approved, they would apply to the fire station expansion. Shedd and the Selectboard didn’t see that as an impossible problem, reasoning that an attractive brick veneer could be applied to the building inexpensively.

The $1 million grant from the state expires in May 2023. To redeem it, the town needs a design, a plan and a price estimate, none of which it has yet, Shedd said. But now that the Selectboard seems to have settled on a location and a price range, Shedd was hopeful that a plan and a request for funding could be ready for approval either at next year’s annual Town Meeting, or at a special town meeting sooner.

“It feels like we’re back at square zero,” Shedd said.

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ex 261.




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