Letter to the Editor: Regarding 139 The Great Road and Options for a New Fire Station

~ Submitted by  David Trigg

This citizen concludes that, at Town Meeting, we should:

  • Approve the purchase of the 139 Great Road property.
  • Not approve funding for design services for a new fire station at that site.

The 139 site, at $1.55 MM, presents an opportunity.  We will figure out a use that will further enhance Bedford’s appeal.

If we don’t acquire it, whomever does will likely have motivations conflicting with townspeople’s preferences, with probably a less attractive outcome.

Do we need a new fire station, yes.

Our Town Manager, Fire Chief, and members of the Select Board have emphasized that the new location be “not more than 1 minute farther than the current location”.

Is 139 the “sole-suitable” location?

It has benefits:

  • Within the stated “response time” window.
  • On the main artery.
  • A highly visible “address”.  “On an average weekday, approximately 22,500 vehicles traverse the front of the fire station”.[1]

It has drawbacks:

  • Residential abutters would be adversely affected, re: sound, light, and property values.
  • The lot configuration seems counter to current best-practice fire station design guidelines.
  • Demolition of colonial-style buildings in the District may further grease a slippery slope.

It is understandable that the Select Board wants to acquire 139, with a lower land cost than the TD lot, previously deemed the “leader”, and faster time to complete.

It is understandable that abutters, and the HDC, should have been brought into the process earlier.

One option that should be looked at more closely is 30 North Road, only 32 seconds from the current station.  The site of the Bedford Motel.

Its benefits:

  • Closer than the TD site for “response time”.
  • On the main artery.
  • With commercial abutters, less disruption from lights and sirens.
  • In the Historic District, an opportunity to enhance the area.

And drawbacks:

  • Effects on the commercial abutters.
  • The hassles of taking by eminent domain, and longer project timing.
  • Demo in the Historic District, though, respectfully, the facade of the Motel is not in keeping with colonial style architecture.

There are other options, but Town Meeting approaches, and we need to get something done.

It seems prudent to acquire the 139 site, but press Pause on finalizing a location which warrants further discussion.

[1] Reference the town-sponsored Bedford Fire Headquarters Building Space Utilization Assessment by CDR Maguire from 2015.

Editor’s note: Mr. Trigg may be considered an abutter to 139 The Great Road.

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