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Fire Station Passes at Town Meeting

The article passed by a 2/3 majority vote.

Town Meeting tonight has passed a proposal to build at 50 Billerica Road.

The $7.8 million, five-bay station will be built in the town hall's upper parking lot. The plan also includes renovations to some town office space to put the fire station's administrative offices and fire prevention in that buildling. 

After Town Moderator Richard Defreitas declared the fire station as passing by 2/3 vote, rep Bob Joyce requested a roll-call vote from each of the town meeting reps so residents would know how their reps voted.

110 Town Meeting Reps voted yes, 41 voted no.

In the town election, voters passed a non-binding

"This is where we are after five years," said Pat Maloney, chairman of the Permanent Building Committee. " ... There is no perfect site. This is the latest proposal we came up with. It's been a goal of the Board of Selectmen for several years now to get something done."

Paul Ericson of precicnt five said he lives near the South Chelmsford Fire Station and firefighters have been good neighbors.

Ericson said the fire trucks leave the station and wait until they turn the corner to use their lights and sirens.

Matt Besonen, a resident of Billerica Road, said his neighborhood has come together to fight the fire station.

"There is general confusion on this," he said. "Most people we talked to, even town reps here, are confused ... We want a fire station, but this five-bay fire station does not fit in this residential area ... We are here to protect our neighborhoods. We have come together as a neighborhood to ask that you stop this vote."

Jim Pinder said he is opposed to the station.

"There is a sense of urgency here, we need to move on this at some point ... I have examined the fire station documents, the focus has been on everything but the right thing," he said. "A lot of selling has been taking place but from an engineering perspective ... this isn't just any fire station. This is unlike any of the four other stations ... It will be busy at all times. Is this the right place for this new fire station? I think the answer is no. Not at this point in time."

Stefani Bush said she understands the nearby residents don't want the fire station, but the town would run into a similar problem anywhere it puts a fire station. 

"In the late 1980s there was a need for a fire station to be renovated and it was not done. It has been brought up over and over again and it has been tabled over and over again. Other facilities have been maintained and put in the forefront," she said. "We are at a position where every single precinct except precicnt three voted for us to move  forward and had this been a binding vote it would have held no matter what. The majority was we would move forward as Town Meeting Representatives ... If this doesn't go through tonight, we are putting it back on the backburner."

Now, the town will hire an owner's project manager to oversee the project.

A debt exclusion proposal for a new fire station on  was .

Jeff Apostolakes May 02, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Bob.....You are kidding when you say the reason the Wilson St was shot down was because of the distrust and 9 north road.....Please tell me you are kidding becausif that is the case you are really out of touch with what residents were saying, writing about and were extremely vocal.... They ,including I, did not want to raise taxes to fund a firestation. There were numerous statements made to the press askig why does the fire department, and I quote, "Need a expensive Taj Mahal". Why couldnt they build something smaller....thus the second proposal that came in at less $$$..Guess what is failed again because no one wanted taxes to be raised. Look at the press reports etc.....The economy was tanking..... I did not once hear someone say that it was because they did not trust the town manager , BOS and 9 north...If that was the case explain so I can understand why it passed this time? Same TM,
Kathleen J Murphy May 02, 2012 at 02:55 AM
@Stefani, Are you the rep who stated that our area of Billerica Rd is not a neighborhood?
Townie May 02, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Town Meeting reps have biases just like everyone else and I'm sure they don't always vote the way their constituents would like! Billerica Road is going to be a mess!
Townie May 02, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Good idea, Debbie! Both of those locations would be better!
Townie May 02, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Melissa, well put and I completely agree!
Paul Creme May 02, 2012 at 03:43 PM
I have followed this issue from the beginning read all the articles, watched the debates and read the depositions. As a resident and a tax-payer, and that fact alone means I have every right to an opinion, whether it meets someone’s standard of validity or not. For those that support the fire station as currently planned, you have a right to your opinion. I do find it interesting however, that some in defending their position state that no one can tell them how to vote, but turn around and in disagreeing with someone who differs with that position imply that the disagreement is based upon poor information, or that we just do not understand the need for the fire station and that is it a matter of public safety. My only point is this; the previous attempts to build the station at the Wilson Road location were to at least some due to the proposed cost, the method of funding and the fall out over the whole North Road fiasco. The latest vote upon which the BOS approved the current plan was non-binding; the TR approved the plan in that it was the only one in front of them. The idea that a station could have been built at the Wilson Road location was never voted upon with the same parameters. I also do not accept the argument, for the reasons stated above that that option had been defeated twice and therefore was off the table. I have a hard time accepting a process that seemed to allow for only two outcomes, no station or the station as presently proposed.
Jim Murray May 02, 2012 at 05:53 PM
I agree with Paul Creme on the fact that the Wilson St proposal(s) did not have the same parameters. Now that we can move forward, perhaps it's time to revisit Wilson Street as it is clear an entry/exit on 129 may be problematic. I would like to see a driveway to 110 from a Station on Wilson St. There are 8 acres to play with, with plenty of room for a ball-field, if we can get everyone to co-operate. My major in college was highway design and I won the contest to get the most cars in a parking lot (on paper). Building on a hill is a bad idea. The foundation will have to be massive. Slab is better.As far as the offices, we are all connected with PC's, so what difference does that make? How much to renovate an office space?
Kathleen J Murphy May 02, 2012 at 10:14 PM
It is nice to know that the way it was worded, Wilson Street is not off the table. (nice move by Cohen!) Not sure all the reps noticed this or not. Maybe they could put it somewhere in the middle but still attached to the town hall!
Kathleen J Murphy May 02, 2012 at 10:15 PM
go Jim! get working on that design!
Bob Joyce May 03, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Karen U: Billerica Road is NOT a state Road. North Road is. Billerica Road IS a residential neighborhood, just look at the Zoning map. The fact that it has heavy traffic doesn't make it less of a neighborhood, it just shows that we didn't plan well back in the 70's and 80's for the huge influx of traffic that Industrial zones create. This road will eventually need to be widened because when the Fire trucks come thru there will be no room for the traffic to pull over.
Bob Joyce May 03, 2012 at 01:09 AM
David: Sorry to correct you, but the DPW was funded with a Prop 2 1/2 Debt exclusion. But the Town Manager is proposing at this Town Meeting that we take $1.7 million out of the Stbilization account (Rainy day account) to fund more work on the DPW. This is being done without going back to the voters. It only takes Town Meeting action. He says he will return it in the Fall, but it's a bad precedent. Stay tuned Thursday night for more sly work by the Town Manager. I thought he was better than Bernie, but now I'm having second thoughts.
Bob Joyce May 03, 2012 at 01:16 AM
There are technically no immediate abutters to Wilson Street. Sinai Circle is the closest, but the buildings there are at least 1000 feet from where the station would have been built. My understanding last year from the Town Manager was that the people in McFarlin didn't have a problem with it becxause it gave them quicker response time for any calls at McFarlin. In addition, they were going to build extra parking for McFarlin (which they don't need, but was really being built for Little League... I think Little League should pay to have parking in that area because they are the ones using it. The Town receives no money from LL for the use of the land the fields sit on, and they have a 99 year lease that virtually can'r be broken.
Bob Joyce May 03, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Jeff: Up until the illegal March 19th meeting that the TM had with selected abutters, most of them thought it was being built in the back lower section of the Town Offices. In fact I had many people talk to me on Election day who still thought it was down below, and there were even some that thought it was going on Wilson Street. You have to remember that most people in town don't know what is going on in Town. Thee are a group of about 200 people like you and I that stayed tuned to what is happening. It isn't until a 40B project, or illegal business in a residential area, or lines being painted on a back country road (High Street) that people get involved. I would hate to think what would have happened if the project was planned for Steadman Street or Dalton Road or maybe even High Street. They would have screemed bloody murder ! Unfortunately this is why so few people vote until they are affected. Hopefully that will change in the future and people start to get involved in Town Meeting.
Phil stanway May 03, 2012 at 12:58 PM
"think Little League should pay to have parking in that area because they are the ones using it. The Town receives no money from LL for the use of the land the fields sit on, and they have a 99 year lease that virtually can'r be broken." I disagree with this as the fee would just be passed on to families in town and they are having hard times now. sports fees, Little league fees, after school activities fees, parking fees. Lets let families keep the only break they get.LL has always been a big part of Chelmsford and if it cost me a few dollars every year out of my pocket I am just fine with that. Parking fees.. then field fees... It would all end up just being a hidden tax of families in town with kids. BAD IDEA.
Jeff Apostolakes May 03, 2012 at 01:50 PM
I hear about the width of the road.. Bob exactly how much more narrow is Billerica rd where the station is proposed as opposed to right across the street from the current station on 4 and Wilson St...I know what it is but wondering if others can share. I did my homework..
Jeff Apostolakes May 03, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Heck why don't we issue parking permits for a nominal fee for the use of any public parking lot in town, open space parking etc......After that we can collect fees from cat Licences and impose town wide taxes on any beverage bought in a plastic bottle and institute a view tax (like NH does) for those that live on scenic roads and ...come on we are reaching people....... Lets charge the heck out of all recreation sports to the point that the only form of recreation is sitting infromnt of video games and texting all day....Wow some are reaching...the safety issue IS real..Guess what ..the Vote passed on the station.
Jeff Apostolakes May 03, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Bob can you refresh my memory regarding the "Illegal Meeting and the action that you took what the "Legal" outcome was...Not interpretation, but Legal decision by the state to see if it violated the open meeting law?
Jeff Apostolakes May 03, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Bob, also if I recall during one of the year when the Firestation was voted down, wasn't the DPW building also being voted on. I seem to recall that. I also seem to recall that many said they could not afford both projects.......I did not hear one resident say because it was a distrust issue..Purely economic and location
Fran McDougall May 03, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Debbie, you are kidding aren't you?
Fran McDougall May 03, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Ms. Moderator, I'd like to move the question. Oh, I'm sorry we did that already and it passed. Can we all now move forward through the process and contribute to all the zonning board and planning board meetings that we will be holding on the issue? I look forward to seeing you all there. May we now adjourn until a time not specific when these meetings are posted. May I also add, PEACE and AMEN
Jeff Apostolakes May 03, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Townie, Your right ,some TM reps did have a bias and voted no even though their precinct voted for.
Kathleen J Murphy May 04, 2012 at 01:42 AM
Haha Fran! Nice! I just want to state for the record that you did vote for it. What "it" is is a fire station for a value that can and will possibly change on a undetermined spot on 8+ acres. Im happy we'll get a station, I just hope they tweak the plans so it is closer to Wilson st/110. Amen! Goodnight :)
Mr. Duggan May 04, 2012 at 01:53 AM
FIRE STATION DESIGN AWARDS "Large multi-bay fire stations without drive through capability are dangerous to firefighters. Many accidents happen in large multi-bay fire-stations. Building a fire station on a cliff is not safe for fire fighters." The Fire Industry Equipment Research Organization (F.I.E.R.O.). They are a non-profit Fire R&D group that helps in SAFETY design of fire stations for fire fighters. http://www.fierofirestation.com/awards.html 1. Documents: How to create a thorough set of drawings and specifications that protect and control the project; particular elements of the drawings and specifications that control the process; what constitutes a detailed estimate of cost; "or equal"; the goals of building in alternates; and contingencies. 2. Bidding: Maximizing the number of bidders; addenda; and evaluating bidders. 3. Construction: Controlling the project to build on time and on budget; submittals and testing; purpose and power of RFI’s; meeting minutes; CO’s; pay requisitions; change orders; and the punch list.
Mr. Duggan May 04, 2012 at 01:56 AM
http://www.fierofirestation.com/topics.html Bob Mitchell, Mitchell Associates Architects Bob will cover 3 key areas for controlling the construction project. 1. Documents: How to create a thorough set of drawings and specifications that protect and control the project; particular elements of the drawings and specifications that control the process; what constitutes a detailed estimate of cost; "or equal"; the goals of building in alternates; and contingencies. 2. Bidding: Maximizing the number of bidders; addenda; and evaluating bidders. 3. Construction: Controlling the project to build on time and on budget; submittals and testing; purpose and power of RFI’s; meeting minutes; CO’s; pay requisitions; change orders; and the punch list.
Mr. Duggan May 04, 2012 at 02:05 AM
"Tips to Improve Safety in the Fire Station" by Kevin Roche, Phoenix Fire Department To the surprise of many, firefighter injuries in the station occur at a very alarming rate. In fact, many departments experience as many injuries in the station as they do on emergency incidents. This presentation will provide simple, but often overlooked, ways to make existing and new stations safer for firefighters and the public. In turn, this reduces the workers’ compensation costs.
Mr. Duggan May 04, 2012 at 02:33 AM
2012 F.I.E.R.O. Fire Station Symposium November 12-14, 2012
Mr. Duggan May 04, 2012 at 02:56 AM
http://www.wbdg.org/design/firestation.php Fire Station by Eric G. Mion
Townie May 04, 2012 at 04:37 AM
Stefani, due to your dad being a retired firefighter, you should recuse from voting on these types of issues, as you are incapable of providing a vote in an unbiased manner and supporting your constituents. There has been way too much conflict of interest in town and it has caused irreversible damage in many cases. You are too emotionally involved to provide unbiased insight.
Townie May 04, 2012 at 04:40 AM
I wish we had more thoughtful, intelligent and unbiased town meeting reps! Being able to spell "zoning" would be a start! Time for some new blood!
David May 08, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Interesting...

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