A former resident is organizing a series of petitioners’ articles for the Nov. 6 Special Town Meeting warrant that if passed could derail the ongoing project to locate a fire station at 139 The Great Road.
Margaret Donovan of New York said in an email that she will be collecting signatures on Saturday at Bedford Day, where for the second consecutive year, she will host a table for her website SaveOurBlock.org.
A petitioners’ article for a Special Town Meeting requires 100 signatures of registered voters. The practice has been for Town Counsel to review such articles to ensure that they are correctly drafted and conform to state law.
Town Meeting in March 2022 approved purchasing property at 139 The Great Road solely for a fire station. Since then, Donovan has been a leading opponent, contending that the project will destroy the character of the street, which is in the Bedford Center Historic District.
Design work has been ongoing for several weeks, and the Fire Station Building Committee has reviewed options for placement on the property. Town officials hope to present a construction proposal to Annual Town Meeting in six months.
There are four petitioners’ articles, the most significant of which directs the Select Board “to explore all options for a new fire station within the previously identified response time circle,” including the current station. This references a geographical envelope for siting based on efforts to equalize response time to all of the town’s extremities.
The article also retains the current Fire Station Building Committee, owner’s project manager, and architectural firm, only in a different role: “to assess any and all options and to present a comprehensive plan to the 2024 Annual Town Meeting on the costs and requirements for delivering a new station by the end of calendar year 2025.”
A similar proposal was on the Special Town Meeting warrant in November 2022. That one also directed the town to halt all non-contractual processes involved with the firehouse project. The article was defeated on a voice vote.
In her email, Donovan said her petitioners’ articles present “the chance for citizens to rescue the troubled fire station project.” She noted that “wherever life has taken me, Bedford has always been my home.”
“I have been working with a number of residents” on preparing the Town Meeting articles, she wrote.
Donovan’s other articles direct the Select Board to “market the property located at 139 The Great Road” once another fire station site is chosen; appoint a committee of residents and firefighters to “explore and assemble the pros and cons of a Fire Department substation in East Bedford;” and require weekly postings of “a comprehensive itemized breakdown of all expenditures, commitments of funds, and projections of costs related to the construction of a new fire station.”