Tisbury proposes new emergency services site
After almost two years of searching for the right site, Tisbury's Emergency Services Facility (ESF) committee and the selectmen will hold a public hearing next week to discuss proposed plans to locate a new building on State Road to house the fire department, ambulance service, and emergency services management.
The hearing on Tuesday at 6 pm in the Katharine Cornell Theatre at Tisbury Town Hall offers Tisbury residents the opportunity to view a presentation about the proposed site and ask questions. Building an emergency services facility on the site will require the town to purchase five parcels of land totaling about one-and-a-half acres for $1,650,000.
The site chosen by the ESF committee is adjacent to the Oak Grove cemetery off State Road. The proposed site would involve a combination of some privately owned parcels on DeBettencourt Way and a quadrant of cemetery land on which an old department of public works (DPW) building is located. Voters will be asked to approve a warrant article for the property purchase at Tisbury's April 10 annual town meeting. In addition, the DPW added a request in the article asking voters for permission to construct a new stone wall similar to the existing one at the cemetery to redefine its property line and maintain its sanctity.
Henry Stephenson, a member of the planning board who worked with the ESF committee, has put together a presentation which examines present conditions at the fire station, possible site choices, and the committee's rationale for choosing the State Road location.
The committee and the selectmen had hoped to avoid having to purchase property. However, town administrator John Bugbee said he and the other committee members found that the majority of town-owned sites would require significant land preparation costs, such as moving roads or extensive grading, which would add significantly to the bottom line.
Tisbury Fire Chief John Schilling, who also served on the ESF committee, said that from the standpoint of fire fighters and emergency management service (EMS) responders, the proposed site meets their needs.
At the public hearing, Mr. Schilling said, "We want to show how we got to this conclusion. This site puts us more in the center of town, right at a crossroads for close to 70 percent of the calls the fire department receives."
The recommended response time for firefighters is four to six minutes, Mr. Schilling said, and the State Road location gives them a six-minute average response time to any corner of town.
In August 2005, an emergency services needs and feasibility study by Brown, Lindquist, Fenuccio and Raber Architects concluded too much work and expense would be required to repair the existing fire station, built in 1955.
The station already was too small to house the town's new ladder truck, which was to arrive the next year. Voters had approved spending $150,000 at special town meeting in November 2005 for a pre-engineered garage at the DPW facilities off High Point Road for the ladder truck's temporary storage.
The feasibility study proposed two alternatives for an ESF, one that would include a fire station and emergency services, and a second that would include the police department, as well. After looking for possible sites, the committee concluded the plan for one big facility was unworkable, and with the selectmen's approval dropped the police station from the equation.
To accommodate the needs of the fire department, ambulance service, and emergency management services, the feasibility study recommended an 11,500-square-foot facility. Depending on whether the facility is constructed totally on site or includes a pre-engineered component, the projected cost was expected to range between $3,300,000 and $4,800,000. These figures did not include any property purchase costs.
Mr. Bugbee said next week's hearing will focus on the site itself, in keeping with the ESF committee's charge to find a location. The actual look and structure of any proposed building will be determined later, he said.