May 19 2016

Town Meeting Approves $8.5 Million for New Fire Station 2

By: Rich Hosford

A project long in the making was approved by a big margin on Wednesday night. 


Town Meeting voted 78 to 8 to approve $8.5 million to tear down and rebuilt Burlington’s Fire Station 2 at the site of the current station at 114 Terrace Hall Avenue. 


During the committee reports Ways & Means Chair William Beyer said the vote from that committee was 9 in favor, 1 against and 1 abstaining. 


“This is something we’ve been looking at for way too many years,” he said. “Now it looks like we have a workable proposal that fits with our finances and leaves room for other projects.” 


Ernie Zabolotny of the Capital Budget Committee said that group voted zero in favor and 7 against but only because they thought the construction could be done for a cheaper price. 


“We all think it needs to be built and needs to be built quickly but we think a construction approach that would utilize factor processed components could save a considerable amount of money and time,” he said. 


Selectmen Bob Hogan said the board also voted to recommend this article be passed. 


Town Administrator John Petrin said this project was a top priority for the town.  


“This is something that is absolutely needed,” he said. “The current building is abysmal and does not meet our needs. It only holds one engine.” 


The new station will have three bays with room to house up to five or six apparatus, depending on the size. Perhaps most importantly it will be big enough to hold the department’s tower vehicle, which is needed much more on that side of town than the more residential area of the Fire Department’s headquarters where it is currently kept. The station will also be able to house up to eight firefighters rather than the three the current building was designed for. 


Fire Chief Steve Yetman also said this is a critical project for his department. The growth on that side of Burlington has far outpaced the capabilities of the station built in 1971. For one thing, he said that along with the tower the new station would have room for a dedicated ambulance, another piece of equipment needed at that location. 


“I’ve been in this process since 2005 since I first got into administration,” he said. “We’ve tried a number of things and all have failed. So here I am again, we need a new fire station and the options are very limited.”


Town Meeting members raised a couple of questions about the plan. The first was concerning the Capital Budget Committee’s recommendation that a less expensive building option, such as pre-fab building components, be taken into consideration. 


Petrin said the building had not been designed yet and that when the town begins issuing Requests for Proposals (RFPs) one of the requirement will be that the designer consider alternative building methods. 


The other question posed by Town Meeting members was why the station was being built at the Terrace Hall Avenue location rather than at the former Clark & Reid site. A couple of members argued that site had been purchased for that very purpose (though Town Meeting member and former selectman Dan DiTucci said Clark & Reid had actually been originally purchased for use by the Department of Public Works and had only later been considered a site for the fire station). 


Board of Selectmen Chair Daniel Grattan said that from the time that proposal was made until today the situation had changed. 


“With our financial restrains and the needs of other departments it makes more sense to go with this plan,” he said. 


Yetman added that while the Clark & Reid site is more centrally located and would have provided the space for a training facility the Terrace Hall Avenue site meets the department’s requirements. 


There is currently a plan for a year or two out to seek funding to use the Clark & Reid site to house DPW vehicles and Recreation Department maintenance storage. 


That site will be used for the Fire Department in the meantime, however. Yetman said construction of the new station will take between a year and a year and a half and during that time department vehicles will be stored at the Clark & Reid site and a trailer or two will be rented to house firefighters. 

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