Submitted by Margaret Donovan
I sent the Town’s Select Board a letter this week regarding the recent report and ongoing plans for the new fire station. I have deep roots in Bedford and while only speaking for myself believe that hundreds of its residents share my concerns.
The safety of the community and its firefighters has always been everyone’s top priority. If there were no other location for the new station it would likely have received universal support. But common-sense has to wonder how that can be. If the Stewart Laboratory had not been available, would there be no new station?
As Thoreau remarked, it’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. And once Bedford officially stopped looking for a better solution, there was no chance of ever finding one. That is at the entire root of the dispute.
On top of the emotional cost of demolishing an elegant part of a key block and replacing it with a cement yard and industrial building, there are legitimate concerns that have received short shrift: The possibility of having to relocate the utility poles and underground vaults fronting the property and the Historic District Commission’s strict mandate are among them and could still send the project back to the drawing board.
Not looking means not seeing a far more appropriate, time-effective, cost-saving, and overall rewarding site, if one exists. That is why I wrote to the Town suggesting two options that would be much less complicated to build and that would offer many advantages.
Both involve converting the current station into a substation once the central station is built. That would allow for the headquarters to be located much farther east on The Great Road.
In addition to being a smoother and probably quicker way to get the firefighters into the facility they urgently need and deserve, it would effectively address the issue of much longer than average response times to the Route 3 Corridor that Don Corey warned about, would preserve the historic fabric of the hill, and would visually protect the character of Bedford Center. One of the options would also greatly enhance the entrance into Town.
The property at 139 The Great Road could be refinanced and become a protected part of Bedford until a suitable buyer – or civic purpose – is found for it. And maybe the whole town could get on board! Details can be found at SaveOurBlock.org.