Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


May 15, 2014

Ballardvale station wins reprieve; Firehouse expansion faces tough road ahead

Voters approve land purchase, design plans

The devil, as the saying goes, is in the details.

So it is with the approval by Town Meeting voters of two warrant articles calling for the expansion and renovation of the historic Ballardvale Fire Station at Clark Road and Andover Street.

The first article calls for spending $200,000 to purchase 8,000 square feet from two properties adjacent to the station.

The second article earmarks another $200,000 for design plans for an expansion and modernization of the station — on that purchased property.

“We are going to move forward and do our due diligence and support the wishes of those who voted at Town Meeting on both warrant articles,” said fire Chief Mike Mansfield, who was one of many town officials opposed to both articles. “But the town has to go through several steps in the process.”

First is to determine fair market value for the two properties versus what Town Meeting appropriated, he said.

Even former town manager Richard Bowen, the Ballardvale resident who proposed the fire station articles, admits there is much work to be done.

Bowen agreed with Mansfield that both properties need to be appraised to determine their purchase value.

“The footprint of the addition has to be laid out,” he said. “After that’s done, we can survey the abutting properties and determine just how much we really need. If that can be done quickly, that means a greater possibility of getting the fire station completed by the summer of next year.”

The 8,000 square feet of property is owned by two different people, so negotiations would have to be conducted with both. But Bowen noted, “We have talked to both of them.”

One of the abutters stood up at Town Meeting and said she would let the town have her property.

If it turns out Town Meeting did set aside enough money for the purchase of the properties, the next step would be to complete designs and specifications for the addition.

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