Beacon Council hears three new options for central fire station
By Jeff Simms
After its proposal to build a central fire station near Sargent Elementary School was rejected by the Board of Education, Beacon fire officials have identified three new possible sites.
Several studies have concluded that the city’s three aging fire stations should be consolidated into one facility. But with little developable land within Beacon’s five square miles, finding a suitable location has been challenging.
The department’s first choice now is an expansion of the 106-year-old Mase Hook and Ladder station at 425 Main St. The second and third choices are the dog-run area at Memorial Park and a portion of the Elks Lodge property on Route 9D.
An eight-member site selection committee presented the new choices to the City Council on March 27. The three-story Mase station — the department’s headquarters — is the clear favorite, said Fire Chief Gary Van Voorhis.
While any of the three sites would work, “the whole thing is about response time,” he said. “When you draw a circle on the city, it’s pretty easy to determine that Mase is in the center of it.” He said firefighters could reach much of the city within four minutes from Mase, and outlying areas within six minutes.
None of the three sites are without challenges. Building at Memorial Park, for instance, could prove tricky due to the loss of open space. The city would probably need to acquire additional private property for parking at the Elks Lodge, and the Mase site would be the costliest to expand.
“No one site was perfect,” Van Voorhis said, adding that the committee, formed in 2015, has considered at least 17 locations.
Expanding the fire station at Mase would likely require razing the building next door, formerly City Hall, for parking, as well as demolishing the rear portion of the city-maintained Memorial Building at 413 Main St. The offices in the front of the building would be preserved and renovated for the veterans groups that use the facility.
A new station at the site could be built higher rather than broader with additional space for municipal offices, said developer Rodney Weber, a member of the site-selection committee.
Although the committee has created renderings, the city has not discussed acquisition of any of the properties. It will now be up to the City Council to decide how to proceed.