Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

May 15, 2014

Ballardvale station wins reprieve; Firehouse expansion faces tough road ahead

Voters approve land purchase, design plans

(Continued)

Mansfield said the $200,000 OK’d by Town Meeting “was not a lot and may be too low to get all the work the proponents want to get done.”

He said as with any project, the town would develop Requests for Proposals, then see what the bids for the project bring.

“If you look at some of the other projects in town, the cost of design schematics and engineering, it gets pretty expensive,” Mansfield said.

Bowen said there is an alternative that also needs to be considered.

The town recently commissioned an engineering study of the building, which determined the structure to be “adequate.”

The study recommended about $350,000 in improvements to the building, which is “money we don’t have,” Bowen said.

“My hope was that we could have a firm figure on internal improvements to the building and then have a special Town Meeting this fall to obtain funding for building improvements,” he said. “There are a lot of things we don’t know, such as what improvements can we do to the building while it’s being used.”

The fact that the town is considering the changes at all is music to the ears of Ballardvale station supporters, who fought unsuccessfully at Town Meeting last year for improvements to the old station.

This year, Bowen’s proposals were opposed by every town board and commission as well as the town manager and fire chief. But with a more streamlined approach and a wider base of support in his favor, the proponents succeeded in convincing Town Meeting to go their way.

“There were honest differences of opinion,” Bowen said. “But ... Town Meeting has made the decision, and it’s now incumbent upon whoever to see to it that that decision is carried out.”

Bowen said he would be meeting with Town Manager Buzz Stapczynski and the fire chief in the coming weeks to hash out the next step in the process.

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