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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 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 , portions of Tech Park West and the Vose Parcel were considered, along with , 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.

, 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 , 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.

Martin Luther July 17, 2012 at 09:02 PM
And people wonder, how Westford got into the fiscal pickle that it is in? We do NOT need a new fire station and certainly not an unmanned station that firefighters will have to drive to, put their gear on and after 15 to 20 minutes be ready to roll. The FC Chief keeps stating that a 6 minute response time is his goal. At noon, I can drive from Westford Center to the intersection of 225 & 27 in less than 11 minutes, observing speed limits and traffic signs. Give me a siren, flashing red lights and a 10,000 lbs fire engine, I will make it in 6 minutes. The town would be better served by extending water mains to all of the town which would guarantee that when a fire engine responds to a fire there is water to fight the fire. At the present time, over 40% of the structures require water to be brought to the fire.
Brian July 18, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Station #3 was built and unmanned for years before it was finally staffed full time. They didn't drive to the station, put their gear on to be ready to roll. Emergency responses came from other stations until it was added to an increased budget to be fully staffed. Funding entirely from Robert Walker's company is certainly something to take advantage of but it will still cost the taxpayers in the long run. And I ask who would want to pay for extending water mains? The taxpayers?
Martin Luther July 18, 2012 at 12:31 AM
$300,000 does not build much of a fire station at prevailing rate wages @ 200/sq. ft it yields 1,500 sq. ft w/o driveways and parking areas or 60x25 foot print. Maybe two pieces of equipment. If emergency responses com from other stations then the response time with the new fire station will not change from what we have now. In the old days under Herb Cote and company, the excess revenues from a particular year was put into a water fund that was used to extend the water service by closing loops, etc. Then Westford got into building Taj Mahals like the new highway garage and the new water office. Several years ago, I went into the building and observed the sumptuous office areas and commented that they pretty fancy digs. I was told that they deserved good quarters.
Brian July 18, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Until it is fully manned (until they raise the budget and our taxes) the response time will be the same. Having been involved in the construction of both the WHD and the WD buildings before being a resident I totally agree that the structure at the WD was certainly over the top and unnecessary. It's a WD building!! It is in the woods set so far back off the road you wouldn't even know it's there. However the WHD building was no Taj Mahal. It may feel like it is to those who work there coming from that old dilapidated structure on Beacon St.
Martin Luther July 18, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Since the 1500 sq. ft. fire station will not have sleeping and dining quarters, to fully man the station will require the doubling or tripling of the foot print plus parking for 15 to 20 cars. Hey!! It is only money, why should I or anyone care?
Rachel Amato July 19, 2012 at 01:56 PM
What are we doing about the loss of the field? That is a well used park by people.
April S. July 19, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Rachel, If you look at the diagrams, it looks as though the fire station will be built from land that is currently wooded... farther down the road in the direction of Rt.27. So it won't take any space from the soccer fields or the parking lot.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) July 19, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Thanks April, Rachel, I apologize for the miscommunication. Selectman Wormell asked on the potential for putting the station there, but the discussion moved back to the original location.
Rachel Amato July 20, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Thank you April and Andrew for helping me to understand.

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