Selectmen Moving Forward on Jack Walsh Fire Station
Last week the Selectmen unanimously agreed to begin the process that would place a new fire station on Carlisle Road.
While significant details remain to be determined, the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved eventually building a new fire station on a 1.5 acre part of the Jack Walsh Field on Carlisle Road.
The money for the new Parker Village fire station, which is expected to be frequently unstaffed for the near future, will be funded entirely as part of an agreement with developers of the Cornerstone Square project to help reduce response times for emergency services south of 495.
Various locations such as a portion of Nashoba Valley Tech, portions of Tech Park West and the Vose Parcel were considered, along with Nashoba Valley Ski Area, which has gained a reputation for numerous calls during the winter months.
However, Westford Fire Department chief Richard Rochon indicated that most alternatives to the Jack Walsh site would not significantly reduce response times to all parts of Parker Village and that of the 201 ambulance calls in Parker Village last year, only 40 came from the ski area.
He also indicated that he would prefer fire trucks not having to cut through a parking lot, another obstacle with sites such as the Tech Park West proposal.
Neighbors on Carlisle Road were also present to voice concerns about noise and changes in traffic speeds, which have been a problem according to residents along the portion of Carlisle Road where the station will be located.
Abutter Keith Wortman spoke out on concerns over safety to residents and to firefighters, particularly during rush hour when he claims cars increase their speed.
“We see the need for a fire station, absolutely, but we ask if that’s the best location,” he said.
Selectman Valerie Wormell asked if the station could be moved from the wooded portion of the Jack Walsh fields down near Texas and Griffin Road in response to abutter concerns, but the idea drew concern for fear of fire trucks having reduced sightlines up the hill toward the originally proposed site as well as opposition on the reduction of soccer fields that would be needed to place the station in that location.
Since the land for the Jack Walsh Field was purchased with a Federal grant stipulating that any land taken from the parcel would have to be replaced with an equal amount of recreation land, the Selectmen followed their motion with a discussion on town owned land between Unicorn Drive and the Stony Brook School now slated to be swapped with the Parks and Recreation Department.
Parks and Recreation Department director Pat Savage and Parks and Recreation Commission chairman Kacy Kaviston cited concerns that the 1.5 acre piece of land they would be given, a landlocked piece of wetlands between the Stony Brook School, Unicorn Drive and Stony Brook, would have far less potential recreational value due to its lack of access by nearby roads.
Selectman Bob Jefferies was initially concerned with giving more of the parcel away due to the need for potential new town facilities on the lot sometime in the future. However, his concerns were lessened after seeing that the parcel extended between the Farmers Way soccer fields and the Stony Brook School itself.
Although the Selectmen still had concerns about giving away too much of the parcel, they agreed to begin the appraisal process needed to get the Fire Station process moving and tabled which portions of the parcel they would give away until more data was available from the appraisal.
Like the first vote, this was also approved by a 4-0-1 margin, with Selectman Jim Sullivan absent.