A historic building in Bedford may have overstayed its welcome.
Members of the community are voting on Tuesday, April 30, on a $17.5 million bond to replace the Bedford Fire Department’s firehouse, which has stood in the heart of town since 1929.
Citing cramped space in their ⅓ of an acre lot between the Bedford Public Library and the town’s Post Office, department officials have proposed a public bond that would allow them to build a new firehouse just south of Bedford village on Route 22.
If approved, there will be an increase in property taxes of slightly more than $225 for homeowners. The proposed firehouse would be nearly double the size of the current firehouse. The proposal has met resistance from some residents worried about further tax increases and the scope of the project.
“The Department and District worked together to combine spaces, remove a bay, and use the space above the truck floor to shrink the footprint to 13,610-square-feet (including a possible 678-square-foot front porch) and get the overall square footage down to 24,678-square-feet,” Lt. Heather Feldman noted.
“This is the maximum square footage and footprint allowed by the resolution adopted by the Board of Fire Commissioners. During the design phase, the square footage is allowed to go down but not up. It is very unlikely to go down by any significant amount.”
Approximately half of the interior square footage of the proposed firehouse will house the seven vehicles the department current operates, including space for a future planned tanker. The rest of the ground level is operational, and support and storage for operations, outside the exercise room for first responders and the "day room" for members to “utilize to work on their ‘real’ careers in between calls. These spaces serve to keep first-responders in the firehouse, thereby keeping them immediately available for emergency calls.”
The second floor would be administrative, with three offices planned. It will also contain a kitchen, meeting room, bunk room and a training room.
Voters can head to the polls and cast their ballots from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30. This is a developing story. Check back to Daily Voice for the results of the vote.
“A chief’s role is to ensure the volunteers are safe, healthy, properly trained and prepared for any emergency,” a letter submitted by Fire Chief Andrew Klein that was endorsed by active and former chiefs. “Unfortunately, we have not been able to provide that for many years in our current facility.
“While we pride ourselves on exemplary service and response times, the inefficiencies of the current building limit our effectiveness to the community. It is time for a new facility to be built to protect the safety and health of your volunteers. These are your friends, neighbors and family members and we need to take care of them, so they can take care of you.”
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