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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Vote No on Fire Station at Town Meeting

A letter from Cathy Ross.

Good Day Town Reps,I understand there is an upcoming meeting to review the Town Meeting articles with Town Meeting Members. I have written a brief letter below stating my concerns regarding Article Ten. I sincerely hope you take the time to read it and take my comments into consideration prior to casting your vote on this article.

I am concerned with the Billerica Road location for the new fire station for a number of reasons but for the most part, lack of understanding and details on exactly what the implications of the neighborhood will be. Some concerns: signage, lights, road widening, traffic study, fire station lights and sounds, views, property values, etc. This seems to be an extremely fast paced approach to just get the "stamp of approval" without some of these details being worked out and discussed. I understand a fire station is needed, but I do not agree with the approach.

I work full time and spend most of my free time volunteering at school and attending activities with my children so admit that I am not a political person. I had absolutely no idea that a location on Billerica Road was even being discussed until a few weeks before the vote. I also felt the question asked on the ballot was extremely misleading and easy to miss.

I have been very surprised to continually hear why the neighborhood is just speaking up now since it seems like most feel we should have known about this for a very long time and would have received notification from the town as abutters, well in advance, but that was NOT the case. The fact was a handful of us were notified by mail only a few weeks prior to the vote which was our first notification. We were allowed to attend an "unofficial" meeting on March 19th, however, specifics were not shared or known about the neighborhood, at this time. The meeting in April at the Senior Center was during School Vacation week, which made it difficult for a good number of people that had planned vacations.

I have been hearing the Wilson Street location come up over and over again and do feel that this location facing 110 is a much better location than Billerica Road residential area. I am basing this only on what I am reading and being familiar with the location. It would seem to make sense to relook at this location since the last time it went to vote it was more about money than location.

I do not understand why the vote needs to happen so fast without due diligence with the neighborhood study and ensuring this is the right long term location for the Town.

In closing, I would like to see the vote either postponed until specifics pertaining to the neighborhood can be fully vetted or you cast your vote as "no" and continue to look for the ideal location for our fire station.Thank you. 

Cathy A. Ross 
70 Billerica Road

Townie April 25, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Cathy, I agree! This hasn't been well thought out at all! I think the current location is perfect! Right smack in the center of town and not in a residential neighborhood. They should take 9 North Road by eminent domain and expand in that location. The congestion on Billerica Road is bad enough right now and then you have Summer Place, where my aunt is a resident, and other homes in the area. It's a really bad location and I hope this doesn't go through.
Isanyone Everhappy April 26, 2012 at 01:58 AM
I'm sorry that you feel this way, but to be honest, this smacks of NIMBY (Not in my backyard) So, as long as it's anywhere but near your home you're ok with it? If the town decided that the best place to build a new fire station was across the street from my house, or at least close to it, I would have no problem with it. I grew up across from a fire station, and it really wasn't as bad as people are making it out to be. Yes, it was loud at times, but, we got used to it quickly and hardly noticed after awhile. As for 9 North Rd., you're beating a dead horse. That's over and done with, we need to move on from it. Summer Place is far enough from this proposed location that it won't be an issue, so that really isn't a good argument. Yes, the school is right around the corner but why would that be a bad thing? Sorry if I upset anyone, but it's how I feel.
Kathleen J Murphy April 26, 2012 at 03:30 AM
You are not upsetting me, but I do believe you don't understand all the logistics involved putting the station where they propose. Limited space, excavation, reduced town hall parking, very little decent handicapped parking and access to town hall. Stop saying nimby and listen to the facts.
Tyler Jozefowicz April 26, 2012 at 05:28 PM
I was in favor of the Wilson Street proposal. The reason it was defeated was the cost NOT the location.The location is ideal, direct access to Chelmsford Street.So work on the cost, few million less, with room for future expansion and delayed further cost and retain the location. Improving the girls' softball fields was a bad move, virtually ruling out that site for immediate future use, and paving the way for the hillside carve out.The softball field is used no more than 10 weeks out of the year-April15th-June 15th about, not even on Fridays or Sundays, one use, because of the infield improvements. Here is the problem. The Wilson Street property will eventually be used for commercial or other town or state development because it is prime real estate, centrally located downtown.When it does, its use(s) will be limited as to parking and access BECAUSE there will be a fire station behind it where egress,access and speed are important. The town is putting itself in a box, by aimlessly moving from one opportunistic proposal to another that virtually rule out future options as they go along. Also, unless the proposal cost is substantially less, the recent proposal is no different except moved back farther which makes it worse. Excavating adds to the cost. There is a need for a new fire station but let's do it right. Unfortunate that the residents by their aimless votes not to pay more in taxes are causing all these spasmodic proposals just to inch around the problem.
Brad Rigby April 26, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Tyler, I’m wondering as I read your comment if by "the recent proposal” you are meaning to refer to the one proposed by Article 10, or if you are referring to the alternative that some have been suggesting of putting the station “behind” the Town Hall, somewhere in the lower parking lot area (involving what you described as the “hillside carveout”). I agree with your description of the issues with having a fire station tucked in behind the Wilson St plot, but unless something has changed, I don’t believe that’s what’s about to be voted on. The proposal on the table is up the hill, with the bay doors and trucks facing toward Billerica Rd, not heading towards the fields. If what I described wasn’t what you meant, or if you were referring to the suggestions of using that site instead of the site proposed under the Town Meeting article, I apologize for misunderstanding – just trying to clarify.
Tyler Jozefowicz April 27, 2012 at 03:01 AM
I stand corrected. The updated Central Fire Station proposal provides for the five bays to face Billerica Road. I am in favor of that, in the latest proposal, provided the costs are scrutinized. There should be some binding assurances made as to costs, since most Warrant Articles provide for an open ended : "... appropriate a certain sum of money for.." without being specific about the amount.
Sue Carter April 27, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Tyler- the "appropriate a certain sum of money" is in the booklet but we will have the actual amount presented to us prior to the vote at town meeting. The printing deadlines often come before the final amount is determined prior to town meeting.
Joanne April 27, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Does anybody understand how quickly this project on Billerica Rd. has moved forward? When I went into the hospital, the building was being talked about as behind the down hall. While I was in the hospital, letters to the abutters (only those that immediately touched town hall property- not the neighborhood) were dropped into our doorways- no certified mail was sent out. Our Prec. Reps. were not invited to be there. Whatever transpired at that meeting was obviously not really transparent, because when I got home from the hospital, one of our neighbors, who was not considered an abutter, happened to go to the town hall and found out what was really being pushed forward for the station on top of the hill. The whole progress, plus the ambiguous ballot question at the elelction, has pushed this project through at ligfhtning speed. We need to slow it down.
Julie Schmo April 27, 2012 at 06:00 PM
I'm just wondering if the fire station doesn't go through, will that mean that the Chelmsford Fire Department will refuse to march in the 4th of July Parade? Will they also call all the other towns and request for them to not march in the parade too? When they didn't get their way before, that's how they handled it. They closed their doors and made up the most ignorant excuse of: "Oh, we didn't get an invitation!" What a joke. They really need to stay right where they are!
David April 27, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Can you blame them for not donating their own free time (on a holiday no less) when the people of Chelmsford won't even give them a safe and adequate working environment?
Joanne April 28, 2012 at 02:30 AM
I would like to clarify my statement about the letter to the abutters--they weren't stuffed in doors, they were mailed. The last thing I want to do on this blog is to inadvertently spread incorrect information that was passed to me. What is correct is that the informal meeting of March 19th let abutters know there was a change of plans- the fire station would no longer go behind the town hall, but up in the parking lot. There was only a handful of people that were actually aware of the change of location before the election and ballot question. This whole project has gone through too quickly. From the March 19th informal neighborhood meeting to the April 30th Town Meeting, only 1 1/2 months have passed.

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