Chris Huston, vice president of Bread Loaf, and Jan Becker, an architect with the firm, presented the town with an assessment of the space needs for both departments, a review of potential sites, projected budgets and costs for each of the sites, and the pros and cons of each. Both Huston and Becker have experience designing police, fire, and municipal facilities, and said they aim to provide an objective way to understand the pros and cons of each option.
According to the Bread Loaf study, the police department would require 5,000 square feet, while the fire department would need 10,500 square feet, 5,500 of which would be needed for truck storage (an apparatus bay). The study found four viable locations for co-relocation that would accommodate the size and scale of the project: Haystack Road, at the old 2.55-acre Green Mountain Power facility; the vacant, former WW Supply facility on West Main Street; on Beaver Street where the old town garage is; and on Route 100 South on an undeveloped lot next to the health center.
Each of the site designs includes parking for police and fire use and public parking, as well as a sally port and impound lot for police use, and a bay for fire trucks with a wide apron space for exiting and entering. The facilities would include booking and holding areas for police, and bunk rooms and a training room for the fire department.
Each of these sites would require a one-story building except the Beaver Street site, which has considerably less acreage than the other sites, as well as a 5% slope, and would require two stories. The sites at Haystack Road and West Main Street both already have buildings on them, but the Haystack Road site is the only one that the study calls for building re-use. Huston said that one of the main concerns for a co-relocation is site circulation, how easily emergency vehicles can exit, enter, and navigate the site. All of the locations are considered good in this respect except the Beaver Street site, which would also require public parking to be in the current high school building lot across the street, and would possibly require the repositioning of sheds currently located on-site.
Each plan would cost in the range of $4,589,000, at the location on West Main Street, to $5,345,000, at the proposed Route 100 South site. Fire chief Ken March and police chief Joe Szarejko attended the meeting and were asked for comment from the board. Szarejko said he had no qualms with any of the sites as his officers are typically on the road, but March voiced his concerns about the effect that each site could have on his department’s response time. “If these were manned stations, any of these work,” said March. “The one west of town, there is no way our members would be able get to that station in time with high traffic.”
March said that he would prefer a more central location but he understood that co-relocation may not allow for it. March also said that of the 40 members of the fire department, most live in the north and east parts of the town, and a location on the east side of town, like the Route 100 South location, would provide more room for drivers to “get out of the way.”
Town manager Scott Murphy said that March’s concerns would weigh heavily on any future decisions, and that the town may find that co-relocation is not the best option for meeting the fire department’s needs. The goal now, according to Murphy, is to use the Bread Loaf study to narrow down the scope to two sites, and look at the feasibility of each.