~Submitted by Don Corey
The purposes for the two fire station petition articles are briefly as follows:
- The first would revoke any uncontracted expenditure for design work on a new fire station at 139 The Great Road (“139 TGR”) while other sites are reviewed.
- The second would establish a Citizen Study Committee to conduct public meetings and to make recommendations at the next Town Meeting in March 2023.
It is understood that a new modern fire station is required and that timely response to all fire or other emergencies is a critical priority.
The public has been shut out of the siting process up to now, contrary to customary previous practice. The Annual Town Meeting Debate Rules limiting speakers to 3 minutes prevented any detailed analysis of potential issues with the selected site. I could only present a fraction of the information that I believe is important for Town Meeting members to make an informed decision regarding this issue.
Town Historian Louise K. Brown commented when the Local Historic District was created, “The changes in the outward appearance of the old town have … been so destructive in the last few years, that it is with a sense of security that we view the creation of the … District. The citizens were able to set aside a small portion of Bedford, and … to preserve it for the enjoyment of future generations.” The current Select Board’s strategy mirrors the prior destructive actions that caused Town Meeting to adopt the Special Act of the General Court by a substantial 62% majority.
The National Historic Preservation Act protects properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places from potential damage caused by use of Federal funds on Federal or State projects. The Select Board used Federal ARPA funds to purchase 139 TGR. The Mass. Historical Commission administers the Act in Massachusetts. To their knowledge, Bedford is the only municipality to ever use Federal funds, specifically prohibited from such use on Federal or State projects, for a local project causing damage to a National Register District.
In subsequent Letters to the Editor, I intend to focus on a related and fundamental long-term planning issue and on some substantial incremental costs required for this site that would be eliminated at any other site.
Please come to the Nov. 14 Special Town Meeting to listen to all the arguments on this important issue.