Quest continues for improved Bristol firehouse

BRISTOL — More than 30 potential locations for a new fire facility were proposed this past Saturday at the first public gathering to discuss potential ways to expand the Bristol Fire Department’s headquarters.
After a contentious bond that would have funded a first stage of expansion to the firehouse on North Street was rejected by voters on Town Meeting Day, 587-293, town officials committed to facilitating public discussions to identify a new site.
Twenty-three Bristol residents as well as 11 members of the fire department and three members of the selectboard attended the meeting at the Bristol American Legion hall. Also in attendance were two non-citizens: Town Administrator Bill Bryant and Adam Lougee of the Addison County Regional Planning Commission, who facilitated the meeting.
“It was a pretty productive meeting with a good representation of the various interest groups,” said Bryant. “All parties engaged in conversation with a positive and helpful demeanor.”
A second meeting will be held on Saturday, May 4, from 9 a.m. to noon in the American Legion. Bryant said that residents who weren’t able to make the first meeting could add suggestions to the list of 30 sites identified at the first meeting, but that the group would also continue a discussion on important criteria for potential locations.
“I suspect we will narrow (the list) down at the second meeting by consensus,” Bryant said, pointing out that any change in criteria like response time or setbacks from homes could narrow the list of proposed locations quite a bit.
Bryant said the next step for the town after the conclusion of the second meeting on May 4 would be to write to the owners of the properties that had been identified, informing them that their homes or land had been recommended by townspeople.
After the public voted down the bond last month, Bryant and other town officials said they had avoided public discussion in the early stages of negotiations surrounding the proposed fire facility in order to avoid making homeowners the topics of public speculations.
The town is also accepting public input in writing, an option for those who cannot attend the meetings in person. Fax comments to town officials at 453-5188, or drop them off at the town offices. Notes from the meetings will be posted on the town’s website, www.bristolvt.org, in a timely manner.

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