To the residents of Groton:

Improving response times is our number one goal in building a new station. Having all personnel and apparatus under one roof from one location will improve response times. With the administrative offices, ambulances and rescue equipment located at the Public Safety Building at 99 Pleasant St. and fire apparatus located at 20 Station Ave. Coordination of the correct equipment and personnel across two locations negatively impacts response times.

The current fire station on Station Ave was built in 1907 as an "Old Fellows Hall" and was converted into a fire station in 1941. The building is in need of many repairs and safety upgrades. Current apparatus design makes it very challenging to drive out or back into the bays due to only inches of clearance between the trucks and door frames. If there is any snow built up in front of the bay doors the firefighters must clear away the snow before they leave the bay or the truck will hit the top of the door frame. Another delay is some trucks need to have the mirrors pulled in before leaving the bay and then bent back out before they can respond to a call, these delay's increase our response time to you.

Why don't we build on the current Station Avenue site?

The building lot where the current fire station is located is 1/4 acre. The vacant lot next the fire station is measures 1/3 acre and is privately owned. Both these building lots, combined, are not big enough to build the new central fire station. Both lots border wetlands requiring significant setbacks under the Town's Conservation Bylaw. There is not enough land to build a fire station on this property.

The Site Selection Committee did perform an extensive review of building the fire station adjacent to the proposed Groton Electric Department's facilities. Again, the amount of land available, wetlands setback requirements and a significant amount of road grading to manage storm water and flooding make this site problematic, and in the Committee's analysis not feasible.

Why the proposed program and size of the new fire station?

The Building Committee working with the Architect firm of Dore & Whittier hired a consulting firm, CR Architects, which is an expert in fire station design. They were hired to help determine the current needs of the Fire Department along with looking forward to a 50-year life for the building. The Building Committee, the Town Manager and I worked diligently to review every room and space needed for the new fire station. The original design was over 21,000 square feet; the Building Committee has reduced that size to 18,785 square feet. This size & program serves today's needs and positions the department for the future.

Next steps

Please come to the Town Meeting on Oct. 29, at 7 p.m. in the Middle School Auditorium and support Article 12 to extend the sewer district from the Public Safety Complex to the new site for the fire station and Article 14 to rezone the lot for the new fire station from "R-A" Residential -Agricultural to "P" Public Use. Should the fire station project move forward, it is expected we will ask a January 2013 Town Meeting to evaluate the expenditure of a specific amount based upon binding bids. Thank you for your support.

CHIEF JOSEPH BOSSELAIT, Groton Fire