Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


February 6, 2014

New options for Ballardvale fire station

Citizens propose expanding, renovating

On the heels of a final recommendation to build the new Ballardvale Fire Station adjacent to South Elementary School, neighboring residents are floating proposals to keep the station at its current site on Clark Road.

Three private, citizens-petition warrant articles will go before the Annual Town Meeting in May seeking to either build an addition to and renovate the existing 120-year-old station or simply just rehabilitate the facility.

The warrant articles likely arise out of the final report of the Ballardvale Fire Station Building Committee, which was delivered to the Board of Selectmen last week amid opposition from neighbors.

After five years of work, the building committee is proposing to construct a new 10,000- to 12,000-square-foot station at the corner of Andover and Woburn streets on the South School campus. The location, owned by the school district, now supports a Little League ball field.

The new station is estimated to cost $6 million. Officials say the price tag would increase by as much as $1.5 million if the town had to purchase private land for the project. Under the recommendation, the town would likely swap land with the school district for the South School site.

The building committee initially targeted the South School property more than three years ago, but the location immediately drew concerns from the neighborhood, which has attempted to propose alternate locations.

Last week, former Town Manager Richard Bowen, who lives in the Ballardvale section of Andover, submitted two warrant articles each seeking to raise $200,000 — one to design a 2,000-square-foot addition to the current station, and the other to buy 8,000 square feet of adjoining land to house it. Funding for construction would be sought later, Bowen said.

Bowen’s proposal calls for an expansion that would allow for three bays at the now single-bay station. The additional space would accommodate a traditional fire engine, ambulance, boat and equipment for the town’s forestry unit.

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