Peterborough fire station architects meet with public

Peterborough Assistant Town Administrator Seth MacLean presents an update on the fire and rescue station project Wednesday night. 

Peterborough Assistant Town Administrator Seth MacLean presents an update on the fire and rescue station project Wednesday night.  STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

About 40 residents attend a presentation about the proposed fire station project.

About 40 residents attend a presentation about the proposed fire station project. STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

By JESSECA TIMMONS

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 04-02-2024 8:01 AM

Modified: 04-02-2024 11:27 AM


About 40 residents took advantage of the last formal opportunity to meet with the architects of Peterborough’s proposed new fire and rescue station Wednesday evening at the Peterborough Town Library.

The proposed station, which will be voted on at Peterborough Town Meeting on May 15, will be located adjacent to the Peterborough Community Center, at the corner of Elm Street and Route 101. In May 2022, Peterborough voters approved $2 million to launch the design and engineering stage of the project. On Aug. 19 of that year, the Budget Committee and Capital Improvement Committee met to evaluate the town’s bonding capacity and set a budget cap on the project. The Peterborough Select Board determined the budget cap to be $12.1 million, which is 70% of the town’s bonding capacity. 

At Wednesday night’s meeting, Jason LaCombe of SMP Architecture presented  a “flyover” design video of the project, detailing how the design for the campus has evolved over the past year as a result of community feedback and the need to adhere to the  project’s budget cap.

“Throughout the process, we needed to make concessions to get to what the town could afford,” LaCombe said. 

Changes to SMP’s initial plans included restoring the curved driveway providing access to the front of the community center and creating a pedestrian walkway to the Shaw’s and CVS shopping plaza. 

“People wanted to access the shopping area without walking across the building aprons,” LaCombe said. 

Peterborough Assistant Town Administrator Seth MacLean, Fire Chief Ed Walker, Hoyle Tanner civil engineer Marisa DiBiaso, Keith Kelley of Harvey Construction and Peterborough Town Administrator Nicole MacStay also spoke about the project.

In response to questions about the size of the new fire station, Walker cited the poor condition  and inadequacy of the current fire station, which has been housed in a former DPW garage building since 1972.  

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“Right now, we can’t park all our equipment inside the building. We have to park some of the apparatus outside, which is very detrimental for a piece of equipment that costs hundreds of thousand of dollars,” Walker said. “In our current space, we can’t access everything. We have to move some equipment to get to other equipment, which is not ideal in an emergency. If we want to get to our boat, we have to move an ambulance out of the way. We have some apparatus blocked in because of space. The new building will provide bays for all 14 pieces of emergency apparatus.” 

Walker said the Fire Department will be hosting open houses during Peterborough First Friday events on April 5 and May 3 and encouraged all members of the public to come tour the old station. 

MacStay said that after the Fire Department moves to the new campus, the town will most likely sell the old building and acreage in order to “put the property back on the tax rolls.” 

“We are aware there are probably ground-contamination issues which will have to be dealt with, but down the road, this would be a possible good site for a multi-use development,” MacStay said. 

Resident Heather Peterson, noting that the project brochure mentions fundraising, asked if the town was undertaking any fundraising or grant funding to help pay for the project. 

“We are pursuing all options for funding. We’ve spoken to the Firefighters Association, which may be a possibility. There may be some components of the project that make sense for fundraisng,” MacLean said. 

MacStay stressed that the town would not be relying on fundraising to fund the project, as it is an essential emergency building, but said the town will be pursuing every possibility for reimbursement grants, such as from FEMA, during the construction of the campus. 

Resident Laura Campbell asked if the location of the new campus would affect response time in emergencies, and Walker responded that the issue had been studied and that the new location would not negatively impact response time.

Carl Mabbs-Zeno, a member of the Fire Station Building Committee, asked MacStay to speak to the benefits of the new building’s core storage areas. 

“Right now, our data core, all the town’s servers, are housed in the basement of the Town House, which is a fieldstone foundation, and it leaks,” MacStay said. “We need a better place to store the data core and our permanent records, and the fire station is the only new building we are planning to construct in the next 20 or 30 years. Building this core storage space is crucial to all of our town’s emergency services.” 

MacLean said that while Wednesday’s night meeting was the last formal event soliciting resident feedback before Town Meeting on May 15,  the Fire Station Building Committee will continue to take feedback, and encouraged all Peterborough residents to reach out with any questions and concerns about the project.  

Information about the project is available at peterborough-nh.civilspace.io/en/projects/peterborough-fire-ambulance-station-building-project