WILLIAMSTOWN -- An attorney representing the Fire District has drafted a purchase and sales agreement for property on Main Street owned by the late Kurt Lehovec, with the intention to build a new fire station. But some residents at Wednesday afternoon's Fire District meeting expressed concern about the route the project has taken.
Prudential Committee member Edward Briggs presented the most recent information to a large crowd in the fire station Wednesday. The District has been looking at the Lehovec property for several years, he said, and most recently has been working with the executor of Lehovec's estate, his daughter Bettina Lehovec, and procured the service of law firm Kopelman and Paige.
This week, Briggs said, the attorney drafted a purchase and sales agreement. He stressed that at this time, there is no signed contract or sale, but the district has negotiated a "very attractive price." In a Sept. 22, 2012, Transcript article, Prudential Committee Chairman John Notsley said the plot and existing structures are assessed at $280,000.
"In the meantime, the committee will work on pursuing grants, and other funds available through donations," Briggs said.
The station would be paid for by a 30-year municipal bond, which Briggs said would have an insignificant impact on the tax rate. Briggs estimated the total cost for the station's construction would be between $8 million and $9 million.
While residents agreed the need for a new station was great, some weren't on board with the District's proposal.
Finance Committee member Andrew Hogeland questioned whether fire and police officials had ever discussed the possibility of having a joint station. Briggs said there had been "chatter" about it.
Resident Alan Jezouit said a collaboration between police and fire should be discussed more.
"We have to look at the possibility that one roof with shared facilities within the building is the most economical way to go," he said.
Fire Department Chief Pedercini explained there were issues with building a single emergency services building.
"Our design committee came up with the fact that we'll need about two acres to build a station," he said. "There's less than four acres [on the Lehovec plot.] There's not anything much bigger around here that we can grasp onto," he said.
In addition, he explained the back of the Lehovec plot is close to a 100-year floodplain, and isn't an ideal place to build anything.
According to a Sept. 22, 2012, Transcript article, a 2009 feasibility study by Maguire Group Inc. recommended a station be about 20,000 square feet to meet the district's needs. The current station, built in 1951, is only 4,325 square feet.
The quarters are so tight that firefighters put on gear within inches of the trucks, and the doors to the trucks can't be fully opened in the stations, Pedercini said in September.
Additionally, the district has a need for a new tanker, but has no space to store it.
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