NEW SHARON — The New Sharon Fire Department is holding a public meeting to develop a plan for a new station. Citizens are invited to join the discussion at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 12, at the town office.
After years of putting funds into a “Fire Station Reserve Fund,” building savings to pay for it and raising funds to repay money the town borrowed from the account for a salt/sand shed, one local resident wanted to see something done when the article came up at the annual town meeting in March.
The warrant asked taxpayers to raise $10,000 again this year to repay part of the funds borrowed. Jack Sawyer asked for an amendment, raising that amount to $20,000 with the intent that the fire department hire an architect to either start plans for a new station or remodel the present town office to include the station. Those who remained at the meeting following the lunch break agreed, approving the amendment.
Since the request wasn’t on the warrant and came after many had left the meeting, selectmen wanted the fire department to make people aware and include them in the planning, said Selectman Russell Gardner.
Since March, selectmen have hired a surveyor for the town office property, the old school the town inherited from RSU 9 about two years ago. A couple church buildings abut the property and there’s a right-of-way within the 3 to 4 acre lot, he said.
Selectmen want to know the layout and boundaries before moving forward with any potential plans for the 60-year-old building and lot, he said.
In Gardner’s eyes, this is the start of a process, one that brings a conceptual drawing to voters.
The fire department has also begun moving forward. Two architectural firms have looked at the building, said Fire Chief Jeff Brackett. The property is flat, which may enable building beside it, redoing the building to include the fire station or perhaps even tearing it down to build a combined town office/fire station.
Finding an appropriate location, land in town, has slowed previous attempts to move the station, Gardner said.
Brackett, who joined the department in the 1970s, said the present fire station, a former carriage shop, has been used since at least the 1960s.
“The station is very packed in and it’s not feasible to revamp it,” he said.
A department’s snowmobile and rescue sled has to be kept at a member’s home due to lack of space. A new 2004 pumper truck had to be rebuilt to fit into the present station. The newer trucks are longer and taller, he said.
The department also has a 1984 pumper, a 2003 squad rescue truck and a 1969 Dodge pumper. With more space, Brackett would like to restore the town’s first new fire truck, a 1947 Ford pumper, and put it back in use, he said.
Another issue that challenges the department is the fact the long fire trucks need to pull out into the intersection of busy Route 2 and Main Street traffic before they can see what’s coming west over the bridge.
Leaving Route 134 from the town office location would provide safer, more visible access on to Route 2, he said.
The 16-active-member fire department has responded to 42 calls this year. They average about 100-calls per year to cover the approximately 48-square miles of New Sharon, he said.