Castleton fire department petitions for new station
By Lucia Suarez
STAFF WRITER | March 18,2013
CASTLETON — The fire department wants a new station and has petitioned town officials to put its construction on a special bond ballot.
First Assistant Chief Richard Combs said Wednesday the petition asks for a $1.5 million bond to construct a new emergency service building on land near Castleton Corners — less than 2 miles from its current location near the college.
“We’ve outgrown the station we are in,” Combs said. “It’s past the time to replace it. We have to look into the future and I am willing to invest in that.”
The fire department used the architectural plans drawn more than a year ago by NBF Architects that also included the town offices and police department as a possible design for the project. It also helped them determine the potential cost of the new emergency station.
“It was easy to split it (the design which included the town offices and police department) down the line,” Combs said.
The design, as it stands, is about 6,900 square feet and includes four drive-through bays that hold seven trucks and two trailers, office space for officers, a bathroom for decontamination, and a training or meeting room.
“It does not have to be the Cadillac (plan) or the Taj Mahal,” Combs said. “It just has to look good and work well so we can serve the town.”
The Castleton fire station — located on Elm Street, a side street off Main Street — consists of two buildings that were originally built as the town’s garage before they were taken over by the fire department. Seven trucks are parked in both buildings with less than a foot of space in between each.
Combs said the current conditions are dangerous for the volunteer firefighters because of the tight quarters. Luckily, he said, nobody has been hurt.
The petition for the bond, presented to the town this week, began circulating last fall, but the fire department took a break to see where the two most recent bond votes for the town hall issue fell, Combs said.
“Then we took the ground running. It took about a week,” he said.
The reaction fell across the board, Combs said, with people supporting the project wholeheartedly, people wanting a new space in the current location, and people not signing because they don’t want their taxes to go up. He said, though, the sentiment seemed to be mostly in favor of a new fire department.
Once the petition is verified — meaning the signatures on the petition are from legal voters — town officials are required to warn a special vote.
“Now we have the opportunity to see what the voters want,” Combs said. “Maybe (this project) will get the town behind it.”