BRATTLEBORO -- The Selectboard is going to need one more meeting before taking its plan to renovate the police and fire stations to town meeting representatives.
The Selectboard held its second public information session Monday night on the proposed $14.6 million project which the board hopes to put before the town meeting representatives later this year.
The board had hoped that recent changes made by engineers would make the plan ready, but additional issues raised Monday are going to force town officials to smooth out some rough edges before making a decision on a final plan.
The board had additional questions Monday about where the emergency operations center should be located, and just how much money should be invested in the West Brattleboro station. Under the proposed plan, Brattleboro's Central Fire Station would almost double in size, going from 12,226 square feet to just more than 24,000 square feet.
The West Brattleboro Station would also almost double in size, growing from 3,409 square feet to 6,249 square feet, which includes 1,000 square feet for the emergency operations center, if it is located there.
The police station would only pick up about 3,800 square feet, going from 13,035 square feet to 16,849.
Town Manager Barbara Sondag reminded the audience that the town has been investigating its options since the 1980s and she said after numerous meetings and studies it made the most sense to keep the
At the last meeting the board wanted to know the difference between building a new facility compared with renovating the existing structure.
Sondag said that while there might be some advantages to building a new fire station, it would cost the town an extra $1.5 million.
Bob Stevens, an engineer with Stevens & Associates said the existing Elliot Street building was sturdy, and there were costs associated with demolition and construction that would always make the project more expensive.
The board also had a long discussion about the need of renovating the West Brattleboro Station.
Some board members wondered if it made sense to invest $2.1 million in Brattleboro's second fire station.
Sondag said engineers have already reduced the West Bratleboro project, saving about $1.3 million by reducing the scope of the renovations.
Fire Chief Mike Bucossi said the town relies on the West Brattleboro station.
There are currently space issues at the station and Bucossi said the town needed to invest in West Brattleboro and now was the time was to do it.
"This is the time to do it," Bucossi said. "If we don't do it now we'll be back here talking about this in five years. We would be foolish not to do anything out there now."
The board also had questions about the proposed plan to move the town's emergency operation center out of the basement of Town Hall and into the West Brattleboro station.
The town needs about 1,000 square feet for its EOC, and Sondag said additional space would be needed at the Central Station if the town elected not to move the EOC out to West Bratleboro.
The board appeared to favor moving the EOC to Central Fire to save money on adding an addition to West Brattleboro.
About a dozen people came out to Monday's meeting to get an update and weigh in on the town's decision and there was strong support to move the project forward.
Former board member Martha O'Connor said the town has been studying the issue long enough and needed to move ahead.
And Ronnie Johnson said that while she agreed it was time, she asked the board to make it as affordable as possible to help Brattleboro residents who are already facing steep tax bills.
Selectboard Chairman Dick DeGray said that in the time the town has been talking about its emergency services buildings, every school building in town has been renovated.
DeGray said it was time for the town to support the plan to renovate the police and fire stations.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 802-254-2311 ext. 279. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.