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Fire Station Location Proposal Imminent

With a few details remaining, the Groton Center Fire Station Committee told Selectmen that they will have their final recommendation for the fire station site by Friday. Three sites are under consideration. Those in the running include Prescott School, Groton Electric Light Department (GELD) property on Station Ave., and the Lawrence Homestead Trust property on Farmers Row, adjacent to the Public Safety Building.

Committee Chairman Jack Petropoulos, stressing that his committee was very close to a decision, is waiting for some final data from consultant Dore & Whittier Architects. He outlined some of the process and considerations that the committee is applying to each of the sites, adding that all three are viable sites.

"There are three sites that are between $1M to $1.3M apart, with the least costly being the Lawrence Homestead Trust property, and the Prescott School the most expensive," Petropoulos reported.

Prescott School is a known entity, but somewhat of a compromise, he said. The existing building would be adapted and not built from scratch. He noted that Prescott School entrance and exit come out onto Main St. If this building were to be selected, it would no longer be available for commercial space, and cost of operation for the building would be higher. It would also require Historic District Commission permits.

Lawrence Homestead Trust property is a blank slate and the least costly. He noted that the response time was essentially the same at all three locations. The downside for this property is the change in the view shed, "although it is uncertain how long that would last and some issues with abutters," he added.

Station Avenue property is a difficult site, he said, noting the extended process that GELD is facing trying to get approval from Conservation Commission for their new building. "It will be a long application process and would cost $500K for site prep over the Lawrence Homestead Trust," Petropoulos said. He added that it was a little like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole but "we have to look at everything before we say no, and determine if this would compromise the fire station program." The building has to be able to have the same footprint on Station Ave. as it would at the other sites. He added, "It would be a tight fit with GELD, but this is a compromise that is resolvable." The committee is waiting for an overlay of the proposed building for the Lawrence Homestead Trust to place onto the GELD land. In addition, the question of access to Broadmeadow Rd. will need to be resolved.

Town Manager Mark Haddad stressed that D&W consultants independently validated estimates for Prescott School and GELD site, and said that the numbers were accurate.

Petropoulos said that an 18,500 sq. ft. building fits the programming plan for the size of the new Fire Station. There will be some refining, he said, "but for the size and cost we settled on 18,500 sq. ft."

Saturday, April 14, at 10 a.m. there will be a public walk through for Groton residents at the new Ayer Fire Station which is roughly the same size and has the same equipment as is being proposed for Groton.

There are two articles on the Spring Town Meeting warrant that will deal with a proposed new fire station. One, a decision on site, is dependent upon recommendation of the Fire Station Building Committee. If the Committee recommends the Lawrence Homestead Trust land, there will be an article for approval to purchase that property.

The second article on the warrant is independent of the actual site decision, and that request for voter approval is for hiring an architect/engineer to design the new Center Fire Station. Haddad said that the cost for this would be between $800K to $1M, for the design, bidding and project management. Although the amount is initially borrowed to fund this, it ultimately is folded into the total cost of construction of the building, and this would then be bonded. According to Haddad, estimates for construction of a new Center Fire Station is between $6.9 to $7.4M for the Lawrence Homestead Trust property, $7.4 to $8M for the GELD site and $7.5M to $8.5 M for Prescott School location.

In other business, the Board approved a one-day beer and wine license for the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District Chamber Chorus fundraiser, to be served during an auction at Boynton Meadow's (formerly Kilbridge's) property scheduled for Friday, May 4 from 5 to 11 p.m. All remaining items from the former antiques business that occupied the property along with donations from local merchants will be sold to benefit the Chamber Chorus and the Rotary Club. Board members Stuart Schulman and Josh Degen recused themselves from the vote as they are also members of the Affordable Housing Trust which is in a partnership with the developer of Boynton Meadows.

The Board also voted to ratify the Patrolman Association contract; to ratify appointment of Scott E. Harker to the Commission on Accessibility; and Dr. Susan Horowitz to the Conductorlab Committee.

The following Annual Fuel Storage Permits were approved by the Board: A.L. Prime (Degen voted no), Groton-Dunstable Regional School District; Groton School; Highway Garage; Hollingsworth & Vose; Mr. Mike's; Deluxe; and Groton Exchange.

There will be no Selectmen's meeting on Monday, April 25, Patriot's Day.

Groton Herald

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