Committee chooses West St. site for Bristol firehouse

BRISTOL — The Bristol Fire Facility Site Selection Committee will recommend a location for a new town firehouse at the selectboard meeting Monday evening.
“We’re ready to go in there and bring the selectboard up to speed on where we’re at,” committee member and Bristol Fire Department Chief Brett LaRose said late last week.
The committee has chosen a plot of land along West Street that straddles two properties — one owned by the Bristol Recreation Club and another owned by Ed and Susan Shepard, LaRose said.
The selectboard has set aside an hour for the nine-member committee to present their findings at Monday’s meeting.
The Recreation Club is a private organization that is separate from the Bristol Recreation Department. The total holdings of the club at that location are 10.29 acres, though that entire space would not be used for a new firehouse. According to a presentation made by the fire committee to the Planning Commission in November, the West Street property in question is listed at $363,400.
Before the project can move forward, voters will need to approve the town’s purchase of the property. LaRose said the committee’s hope is that the issue appears on the ballot this November.
The site on West Street includes the Hub Teen Center and skate park. LaRose said a new firehouse, the Hub and the skate park would all fit onto the property, though he said he was not sure if the teen center or skatepark would need to be relocated within the property to accommodate the firehouse.
Previously, members of the Bristol Planning Commission had expressed concern that building a firehouse on the site would necessitate the demolition of the Hub and skate park, depriving area youths of a safe place to hang out.
LaRose said he feels the committee has met the criteria established by the public last May.
“I felt we have met the objectives laid out before us, and we’re looking forward to handing this off to the selectboard,” he said.
If town residents do approve the purchase of the property, they will then have to approve a separate bond to cover the cost of constructing a new firehouse, in a different vote.
LaRose said the committee plans to hold a public forum in the coming months, where residents can ask questions about the project. With a suitable location for the new firehouse chosen, LaRose said the town will have a better idea of how much a new building would cost during the architecture and design phase of the project. That process will not begin until voters approve the purchase of land on which to site the firehouse.
“If residents vote for the property, eventually, down the road, we’ll come back for money to build it as well,” LaRose said.
From an original list of 33 sites, the fire committee narrowed the sites down to six in October, and then two in November — the West Street site that will be recommended on Monday, and another location on North Street.
In December, the Planning Commission voted that the West Street site conformed to the Town Plan, while the North Street site did not. 

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