WILLIAMSTOWN -- The town's fire district is moving closing to acquiring land for a new station, with a special meeting seeking resident approval set for Oct. 15.
But officials and residents still stress the need to study the possibility of a joint fire and police station.
John Notsley, member of the Prudential Committee that oversees the district, told Selectmen at Monday's meeting that, based on a topographical study, consultants for the district believe the property would not accommodate both facilities.
"They came up last Wednesday and said it'll fit. The total parcel is 3.7 acres, but because of the 500-year floodplain, it limits you," he said. "It would not appear at this time that it's possible."
After months of negotiations with the estate of Kurt Lehovic, officials in June agreed to a purchase and sales agreement to acquire property at 562-580 Main St. for $575,000 to replace its aging station. The district has until Oct. 21 to finalize the sale.
The meeting on Oct. 15, at 7 p.m., at the elementary school will ask voters to approve the purchase of the property and removal of the four buildings on the site, Notsley said.
Running parallel to the district's work this summer has been work by the Public Safety Building Study Committee, formed to explore sites for a new police station and the possibility of a joint fire and police facility.
Selectmen took a step toward siting a police station during Monday's meeting, when they approved $25,000 for the committee to carry out a feasibility study.
"What we'd like to do is get the process started for evaluating space needs at the police station," Public Safety Building Study Committee member Andrew Hoagland, who also serves on the Finance Committee, told Selectmen.
Hoagland explained the committee would select a consultant, who would then calculate square footage needed for things, such as offices and interview rooms. The consultant would also study several sites to determine whether a police station would fit on the property.
Hoagland stated he felt it was too early to tell whether the site could accommodate a joint facility. A feasibility study must be done to find the exact footprint of a police station before that determination was made, he said.
On Monday afternoon, Fire Chief Craig Pedercini explained the existing station, built in 1950, no longer meets the needs of the department. The station lacks needed space for meeting areas, trucks and equipment, he said.
"There was a time when we just fought fires," he said. "Now, we do fires, search and rescues in the woods, hazardous material calls, motor vehicle accidents. That all requires special equipment ... now we're running out of space you need for the different types of calls we take."
Members of the public can attend three upcoming presentations to learn about the station and recommendations to the district from a 2008 feasibility study, Pedercini said.
The first two presentations will be at 7 p.m., this Thursday and again on Thursday, Oct. 3. A third will take place at 10 a.m., on Saturday, Oct. 5. All will be presented by Pedercini and take place at the fire department at 34 Water St.
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