One article, if passed, would halt any expenditures “except as necessary under contract.”
A companion article would require the moderator to appoint a five-person committee to conduct at least two public meetings, accept suggestions for fire station locations, review the recommendations, and report the results before the 2023 annual town meeting.
Former Selectman Donald Corey, who has been a vocal opponent of the planned location, is a driver behind the campaign to suspend the project. He objects to the site because he fears a fire station would compromise the historic character of the Bedford Center Historic District.
“I want to proceed with the petitioner’s articles so we can give a full presentation of issues and problems and things that were not able to be said,” Corey explained. “I had three minutes to say my concerns at Annual Town Meeting and I had a lot more that I think was of importance for people to make an informed decision. They got everything from the Select Board side.”
A longtime opponent of the proposal to relocate the fire station to 139 The Great Road, Carol Amick reached out by email on Friday. “I’m sending this out on behalf of Don Corey, who is gathering signatures for 2 petitioners’ articles relative to the location of a new fire station. Several people are helping Don collect signatures. In addition, Margaret and Gail Donovan, the daughters of Connie Donovan who was instrumental in getting the Bedford Historic District enabling law enacted by the Legislature in 1964, will have a booth at tomorrow’s Bedford Day event. Please stop by if you haven’t signed the petitions!”
A former resident, Margaret Donovan has privately protested the location. She arranged for a Bedford Day booth under the name SaveOurBlock.org, where she will collect petition signatures. (As of Friday afternoon, that website had something to do with a campaign to rebuild the World Trade Center in Manhattan.)
Petitioner’s articles for a special town meeting require 100 signatures of Bedford registered voters. The deadline for submitting the petitions is Sept. 26, the day the Select Board is supposed to close the warrant.
Annual Town Meeting voted by more than a two-thirds margin on March 29 to authorize the purchase of 139 The Great Road and engage a designer to begin planning the new facility. Last Monday the Select Board authorized Town Manager Sarah Stanton to work out the details leading to a contract with an owner’s project manager.
Stanton said at the meeting she is also planning to engage a historic preservation expert, and that actual design won’t begin for several months. Soon, the Volunteer Coordinating Committee will be seeking candidates for Building Committee.
Corey, a pre-eminent local historian and member of the Historic Preservation Commission, provided a couple of examples of what he said he didn’t have time to report:
- “The Select Board is violating the clearly-stated intent of the Historic District,” Corey charged. Corey bases this on a statement from Town Historian Louise Brown after the district was created in 1962: “There has been an awful lot of destruction, but now with everything in the local Historic District, everything is safe.” Corey said the proposal disregards 60 years of precedent.
- As part of an area listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Corey said, the building at 139 The Great Road cannot be demolished using state or federal money because it would “damage the integrity” of the district. The town used $150,000 from an American Rescue Plan Act grant to meet an unexpected gap in the purchase price for the property.
“These are things that I wanted to say but never had the opportunity,” said Corey.
According to the potential special town meeting article, the citizens’ panel could not include members of town boards or committees, or officeholders. “The intent of Corey’s article is to allow townspeople to participate in a process to identify the best new fire station site for the community,” according to a handout.
Editor’s Note 09.20.2022: The correct link for SaveOurBlock.org has been inserted into the text.