Combined Elliot Street police-fire plan advances
BRATTLEBORO -- A Police-Fire Facility Building Committee meeting scheduled for Thursday has been canceled to give the project manager and architect more time to refine their plans for a combined police and fire facility at the site of Central Fire Station on Elliot Street.
The Police-Fire Facility Building Committee was supposed to meet Thursday to talk about the new plan, which the Selectboard began to explore after Brattleboro voters rejected a proposed FY 2015 budget which included funding for the original $14.1 million project.
The Selectboard has not yet approved plans for the combined police-fire facility on Elliot Street, but has asked project manager Steve Horton to investigate the feasibility of the town building both stations on Elliot Street.
Interim Town Manager Patrick Moreland said Horton was working on new plans to present to the Selectboard and Robin Sweetapple, the Police-Fire Facility Building Committee Chairwoman, called the meeting off until the committee had the new plans to discuss.
Sweetapple was not available to comment Wednesday.
"I received a call from Steve and he said he needed more time to work through the ideas," Moreland said. "The possibility of combining the stations at Elliot Street is a different direction and he has been working through the space issues there."
It is not yet clear how much money could be saved by building both stations on Elliot Street, nor has Horton fully investigated the feasibility of having both stations at the Central Station location.
Moreland said the town has spent $928,916 through June 30 on the police-fire project.
Town Meeting representatives approved the original $14.1 million project which would have paid for extensive renovations at the police station in the municipal center and at both fire stations.
The Selectboard put the project on hold this year after voters rejected the 2015 budget.
Brattleboro Fire Chief Mike Bucossi said he was going to meet with Horton and with other town officials Thursday to further refine the Elliot Street option.
According to Bucossi the group is trying to figure out if there is enough space at the Elliot Street location.
He also said they are trying to figure out traffic and pedestrian patterns for what could become a very busy emergency response center if both the police and fire stations are ultimately located on Elliot Street.
"Right now we are looking at the different options on how to use the property here at Central Fire," Bucossi said. "We are willing to take a look at it. We are going to give it a good, fair look. Hopefully soon we will be able to come back with a program that will work for everyone."
Bucossi said he fully supported the original $14.1 million, but he also said he understood concerns about the cost.
He said he would support the new plan to combine the police and fire stations if it worked for both departments.
"Everyone has been working very hard on this," he said. "We have a very good relationship with the project manager and architect. They are working very hard for us and listening to all of our ideas."
Bucossi also said he is going to continue to lobby for the West Brattleboro Fire Station, which some critics have said should be shut down to help the town save money.
The Selectboard has asked for a full report on the West Brattleboro station and Bucossi said he hoped to be able to go before the Selectboard in August with more information about the need for the town to support the second fire station in West Brattleboro.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.
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