TOWNSEND -- The Capital Planning Committee said last Thursday it would support putting a new fire station before voters this spring.

Member Carolyn Smart suggested putting the project on the warrant as one article to fund the entire proposed $11.3 million headquarters through a debt-exclusion, but dividing the project into stages within the article.

If the article passes, the first stage would allocate $1.2 million for land acquisition and site testing. Once that step is complete, the rest of the money would be allocated for the remainder of the project.

Smart said this method would appease the Capital Planning Committee, while also addressing concerns from the Fire Station Building Committee that the first stage of the project could be approved by voters while subsequent stages might not be.

"This would be a way to make everyone happy," Smart said.

Fire Chief Donald Klein agreed.

"I have no problem as long as the whole project is being put before the voters," he said.

However, if the committee decides to pursue a design-build option, in which the same company provides design and construction services, the stage breakdown wouldn't be necessary, Smart said, as the project wouldn't go out to bid.

Klein said the fire station panel is leaning toward the design-build option, but will decide officially as its next meeting.

Smart also said the project should be included on its own, separate from the town's capital plan, so that if it gets voted down at Town Meeting, the entire capital plan doesn't get voted down with it.


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Bill Elliott, of the fire-station committee, said moving the project forward is important for keeping costs down.

"That $11.3 million presents a worst-case scenario. Every six months that we don't do it, we get closer to that $11.3 million," Elliott said.

Using a design-build option, Elliott said, would also help keep costs down.

Selectmen decided Jan. 14 that the project would go on the warrant for Town Meeting in May, after a lack of approval from the Capital Planning Committee kept it off the warrant at November's Special Town Meeting.

CPC's approval isn't required for the project to be put on the warrant for Annual Town Meeting, selectmen said.

Klein also presented his capital requests for fiscal 2015 to the committee. Not including the fire-station project, the department's requests totaled about $105,000.

The committee has $200,000 for fiscal 2015 to cover capital expenses town-wide.

After reviewing the requests from the rest of the town departments, the committee will rank the projects to determine which will receive funding.

Klein's requests included $30,000 for ambulance power cots to transport patients and $25,000 for a utility task vehicle and trailer for off-road travel.

The new power cots would replace the town's stretchers to address safety concerns among emergency personnel, Klein said.

"They'll come in very handy and, hopefully, reduce the risk of having back injuries," Klein said.

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