~ Submitted by Kathy Jarvis
Bedford needs a new fire station. But where?
Under state law, government proposals to acquire land must be made publicly, with clear requirements and procedures, the same as for any other procurements. The property purchase for a fire station first appeared on the Town Meeting Warrant in 2020. An open search should have been conducted prior to that, but it does not appear to have occurred. Instead, we were informed that the “only option” was to spend millions of dollars on an eminent domain taking of a property on Webber Ave. That did not happen, but two years later, in 2022, the purchase was back on the Warrant—with a different “only option.”
As the Commonwealth of Massachusetts points out in Chapter 30B: “Although your research may identify one parcel…that is suitable, you will not know before advertising whether you have found the only property that meets your needs.” Further: “If you suspect there may be only one suitable parcel…, consider whether your definition of your needs is unnecessarily restrictive.”
Arguably, the Town faltered in both respects. There was no public process, and the boundaries of the area within which the property must be located are unnecessarily rigid. The Bedford Motel, for instance, may or may not be appropriate for a fire station, but it is unreasonable to exclude it from consideration altogether, simply because it falls a few hundred feet beyond an arbitrary line drawn at Willson Park.
Perhaps now the Town should initiate the requisite public solicitation process, followed by a Special Town Meeting in late summer. The Town could then proceed immediately with a fire station.
The people of the Town, and its dedicated firefighters, deserve no less.
Thank you, Kathy! Those of us watching this story from farther afield thank you for your timeline, clarity, and suggestions for resolution to a complicated issue.
This property is going to save millions. But some people are up in arms because we’re not going to spend millions more than needed.
Makes absolutely 0 sense.
Very rational and well said. Great perspective!