Bristol considers fire station expansion

BRISTOL — The Bristol selectboard on Monday took its first big step in exploring an expansion of the fire station on North Street.
It awarded a $3,000 contract to the Middlebury-based Vermont Integrated Architecture (VIA), which was one of four firms to submit bids to create a design for a new station in that space. The station sits on about one-fifth of an acre. But the town is eyeing the neighboring property on the corner of Garfield and North streets — the home of Allen and Marjorie Bilson — for acquisition. The two properties combined are about half an acre.
Bryant said the Bilsons have agreed to let the architect create a plan for a remodeled station using their property, and they are willing to discuss selling their home. But no commitments or promises have yet been made.
“We’ve had very preliminary discussions with them,” said Bryant. “They’re OK with us using their property for planning purposes. There have not been any serious negotiations about purchase or sale agreements. They’ve only agreed to talk to us if and when that time comes.”
Bryant said that if VIA presents an appealing design and plan for the station in July, then the town would talk to the Bilsons about a deal. But, Bryant clarified, the town will not force the Bilsons to sell their house. 
If the selectboard and fire department liked the design and the Bilsons were willing to sell, said Bryant, there’s a chance that voters would see a fire station bond vote on their 2013 Town Meeting Day ballot. If either of these variables do not pan out, said Bryant, the town would continue to look for new locations for a fire station.
In other news from the Monday meeting, the selectboard:
•  Reappointed Slim Pickens and Christine Whitcomb to the design review commission.
•  Met with Robin Scheu, director of the Addison County Economic Development Corp., to learn about new ACEDC programs and initiatives. Bristol is a member of the corporation, and Bryant sits on the board.
•  Discharged several mortgages for loans that were paid off in the revolving loan fund.
•  Decided to cease plowing Gardener Lane in the winter because it’s a private road.
•  Approved the removal of an old and poorly placed fire hydrant next to the Bristol Works business campus.
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected]

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