Bernardston fire station committee to view building drawings

  • Bernardston Fire Department. PAUL FRANZ

Recorder Staff
Sunday, October 23, 2016

BERNARDSTON — The newly formed Fire Station Expansion Committee will consider the first preliminary drawings of what a new fire station could look like during a meeting Tuesday.

Architects from Stevens & Associates, the engineering and architecture firm overseeing the planning, will attend the 6 p.m. meeting at the Fire Department to show the committee possible designs.

Earlier this year, Bernardston resident Frank “Bud” Foster donated a strip of land to the Fire Department to enable the expansion of the department’s facilities. Since then, residents voted to conduct a feasibility study on the station during a special town meeting in September, and a Fire Station Expansion Committee was formed to oversee the study’s findings.

The seven-member committee recommended by Fire Chief Peter Shedd includes Shedd himself, Dennis Shockro and Tim Snow of the Fire Department, Bernardston resident Sal Arnone, Jane Dutcher of the Finance Committee, local contractor Scott Digeorge, and Selectboard member Stanley Garland. The Selectboard approved all members, and the committee began meeting Oct. 4.

Shedd said he wanted to create a committee whose members have plenty of experience in the construction industry, like himself, Shockro, Snow and Digeorge. He also wanted to have a member of the Selectboard to “keep the chain of communication open” with town government.

During the Oct. 4 meeting, the committee met to hear from members of the Fire Department about what they’d like to see in a new station.

“Being able to work around the trucks is the major concern,” Shedd said.

The station, he said, is extremely overcrowded. It houses four vehicles, with no room for the department’s three equipment trailers, which are stored outside, and little office space.

The committee also met with architects from Stevens & Associates for the first time on Oct. 4.

“They surveyed the whole lot so they could clearly show how big a building we want and we could see everything to scale,” Shedd said.

On Oct. 18, the committee also took a trip to the Guilford Fire Department, which Shedd said was built about 10 years ago.

“They could clearly see the difference right away when we got up there and saw a station with more room,” Shedd said, adding that the Guilford station is a good model of what the committee would like to have constructed in Bernardston.

The current building could expand to the west, east and north, depending on the results of the study. As other options, a separate building could be constructed alongside the existing station, or the existing station could be torn down and replaced altogether.

Shedd said he wants to keep the price as low as possible while constructing the most efficient building for the Bernardston Fire Department. Toward the end of November, Shedd plans to hold a public hearing to give residents a chance to weigh in on Stevens & Associates’ designs.

“The ball’s finally rolling and we want to keep it going. I’ve been asking for this for a long time,” he said. “Hopefully by the end of January we’ll have a done deal and some numbers to present to the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee.”