Wicked Local | By Jim Haddadin
December 28, 2016
FRAMINGHAM – With a small strip of land near Framingham High School now under the town’s control, residents will likely decide next year whether to erect a new fire station there to replace the dilapidated firehouse in Saxonville.
Town officials plan to present a warrant article at the annual Town Meeting this spring to fund the design of a new Fire Station 2, which would be sited on a small undeveloped parcel near the high school.
Town staff recently held a pair of neighborhood meetings with residents of A Street to discuss plans, which call for a roughly 8,000-square-foot building.
The firehouse would be tucked between a wastewater pumping station on A Street and a parking lot used by high school juniors. Members of the School Committee voted Dec. 6 to relinquish ownership of the land, transferring control of the 2-acre parcel to the Board of Selectmen for municipal use.
“The action allow(s) us to have the confidence to expend further funds in exploring preliminary design and site planning that will form the basis for further engagement with the neighborhood,” Town Manager Bob Halpin wrote in a recent notice to selectmen.
Built in the 1890s, the existing Saxonville fire station on Watson Place is home to Engine 2 and rotating crews of four firefighters. Officials have planned since the 1960s to replace the structure, which features a concrete bay floor that is too small to house modern fire trucks.
The town used “Band-Aid” repairs to keep the station running, but the building is reaching the point where it’s no longer structurally sound, Fire Chief Joseph Hicks said. Losing the station could significantly hamper public safety, Hicks said, since it would take firefighters more than four minutes to reach destinations in Saxonville from the nearest stations.
“I don’t think you’ll find anyone that disagrees we need a new fire station â€¦ ,” Hicks said. “Where to put it was the complicated factor
Town staff explored several potential sites, including private properties and the old McAuliffe Library, but either couldn’t reach agreements for the properties or determined they were otherwise unsuitable.
Building the new station on A Street would allow firefighters to quickly reach emergencies in Saxonville, and also bring them closer to the school and nearby neighborhoods, Hicks said.