Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


January 17, 2013

Ex-town manager: Repair fire station, don't replace it


But like the smaller engine size, the town should be able to live with the condition, according to Bowen.

That leaves the structural aspects, specifically the parts of the building that have weathered over the years. The $500,000 would remedy those to keep the station safe and usable, Bowen said.

“One of the problems of the building is it’s not up to code,” he said. “If it’s possible to bring it up to code, then the money would be used for that purpose.”

The dollar amount in the article is “a guesstimate,” and not an official number coming out of an engineering study or needs analysis of the building, according to Bowen.

That leads him to his motivation behind the article.

“I wanted it to be enough to get attention,” he said. “If my article does nothing more than to generate a healthy discussion of the issue of, ‘Should we replace the Ballardvale Fire Station?’ then it would have accomplished a great deal.”

While Ballardvale Fire Station Building Committee Chairman Dan Casper said he hadn’t seen the article and couldn’t comment on it, he said nobody involved with the article has spoken to the building committee.

He also rejected any proposal to keep the station online, an option that the building committee looked at early in its work, Casper said.

“We’ve always felt it is impractical. It doesn’t work,” he said. “The lot of land is way too small and the building is too small.”

While the building committee hasn’t seen Bowen’s proposal, Bowen said he’s watched the building committee’s work as it has been presented over the years. The process the committee has gone through is “impressive,” he said.

“It’s a big step in the direction of transparency,” Bowen said. “But it assumes at the very outset that we have to replace the station. What I’m saying is, ‘do we?’”

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