Selectmen Recommend Wait on Fire Station Location
The Selectmen want to wait until Fall Town Meeting to seek more information from the Permanent Town Building Committee.
Westford's Board of Selectmen will unanimously recommended to Town Meeting voters the dismissal of Article 27 on Tuesday night after coming to a consensus that more resarch is needed on the proposed Parker Village Fire Sub-Station, or if a fire station in Parker Village is even needed at all.
The Article, which asked voters to approve a swap of land in the Jack Walsh field parcel, now under the supervision of the Recreation Commission, for parcels of land near the Stony Brook School once being considered as a possible Town Hall annex location.
Town Permanent Building Committee chairman Tom Mahanna told the board that the Jack Walsh location, which would be funded by Cornerstone Square developer Robert Walker as a condition of a permit for the development, would be perfect for the new sub-station, if the board does indeed want a station in Parker Village.
Mahanna noted that due to the possibility of a new replacement station for the current Center Station at the Town Hall complex, recommending three preferrable locations for that should the board decide to move forward after discussion with Fire Chief Richard Rochon: its current location, near the Abbot School on Fisher Way, or across from Eric's on Boston Road.
If the board ultimately decided to move forward with the Eric's location, a lot described during the meeting as "the Gateway to Westford," Mahanna and Rochon told the board that it could be centrally located enough to serve the needs of Parker Village with the added traffic from Cornerstone.
Selectman Val Wormell asked Mahanna whether locations along Route 110 had been searched for locations as well, to which Mahanna replied that they had not.
Although the price of purchasing a lot along the 110 corridor versus the Jack Walsh option as well as the other lots, which the town already has control over, the board ultimately felt more information was warranted.
Assistant Town Manager John Mangiaratti informed the board that a delay until Fall Town Meeting would cause delays in required approvals for building on the Jack Walsh lot by the National Park Service and the Massachusetts State Legislature, approval being required from when the Recreation Commission obtained the land in the 1970s, which would then delay construction on the project.
However, given the gravity of the decision, the board still remained unified in their preference to wait.
"We might lose a construction season, but I don't think the loss isn't that great to ensure what we do is done correctly," said Selectman Andrea Peraner-Sweet.
Mahanna reminded the board that under the agreement with Walker, construction on the fire station must begin within two years of the end of "substantial" construction at Cornerstone.