In an updated presentation at Wednesday night’s selectboard meeting, Chris Huston, architectural operations manager of Breadloaf Architects, the company performing a study on the feasibility of co-relocation of the departments, told the board that due to the fire department’s needs, co-relocation may not be the best option. Instead, Huston said the town should consider moving the fire station just around the corner, building a new station where the old town garage used to stand.
“The in-town site on Beaver Street is tight and its topography is aggressively sloping down,” said Huston. “We determined it simply does not have enough land to site the fire and police, and much of that came from the kind of flow needed.”
While the eventual site of the police station can be more flexible in its location, fire chief Ken March has expressed at past Breadloaf presentations that response time is the most important factor in a new site and a central location in town would be the ultimate goal. Huston said he had met with the fire department and discussed the floor plan as well as the constraints of the location, and created computer-generated site plans for the lot. In these plans, the building would cover 10,270 square feet with four vehicle bays, or a five-bay plan for future aerial equipment use at 11,750 feet. According to March, the five-bay option will be necessary for housing larger equipment in the future.
The construction of the five-bay station, which would include an interior elevator, would cost the town approximately $4 million, according to Huston. Wilmington Town Manager Scott Murphy said that because the town owns the site already, the plan could save the town the cost of buying a new property to build on. But Murphy also told the selectboard that the town began the study project with a $75,000 grant, and the town can afford to take the next step and ask Breadloaf to begin researching sites for the police department as well.
“If the selectboard would like to move forward, the next step is to see if this site can accommodate the fire station. It’s small, it’s tight, and they will need a fifth bay, so there are concerns. When Breadloaf is finished with their work they would present us with whether it can accommodate the fire department.”
Breadloaf estimates the police department’s space needs at about half that of the fire department’s (5,000 square feet) and those needs, as well as a possible new location, will be more closely addressed in the next phase of the study, according to Huston.
Breadloaf initially researched seven sites in the co-relocation study including one on Haystack Road, the former WW Supply building on West Main Street, and another just south of the health center on Route 100 south. Because Breadloaf’s study is for feasibility, the outcome may be that co-relocation may not be the town’s best option.