New fire station ‘a must,’ says chief

Chilmark voters will decide on $11.1 million project in May.

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Chilmark voters are about six weeks away from determining whether to authorize $11.1 million to build a new fire station and a Tri-Town Ambulance headquarters. On May 24, the station will appear as part of the annual town warrant, and then on May 26, if it passes, voters will have the opportunity to ratify their vote at the annual town election. 

Chilmark Fire Chief Jeremy Bradshaw told The Times replacing the station is “a must.” Cramped conditions, poor air, inadequate bathroom facilities, and a substantial amount of asbestos wallboard are among the building’s deficiencies, Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw lauded the “campus” style design Falmouth architecture firm Keenan + Kenny came up with, where the ambulance facilities, which are presently conjoined with the fire station, occupy a separate building behind town hall. In layout and style, he said, the project “really goes with the center of town.”

Chilmark historical commission chair Jane Slater told The Times she was pleased with the designs. “I thought they did a good job,” she said. She noted emergency services were kept in the middle of town. She also said in keeping with the aesthetic of the town, she hopes stone will be used instead of concrete for retaining walls. Slater said it was her understanding that was under consideration. Slater also complimented the spacing of the new design. “I thought they used the space well,” she said, “and left enough open space around the town hall.”

“We’ve been trying for 17 years to replace the existing fire station, and look forward to some progress,” Chilmark Deputy Fire Chief Tim Carroll said. Carroll, who is also town administrator, said, “It would be nice to have a building fire trucks can fit in.” 

Carroll added that if the department is going to ask volunteers to do a dangerous job, they should at least provide a safe place to work and train. 

“I’m delighted we’ve reached a solution, and I hope the town will support it,” select board member Jim Malkin said. 

In January, at a presentation of the building designs, town hall staffer Chuck Hodgkinson 

showed the board that on a 30-year bond schedule, a Chilmark home assessed at $1 million would see an estimated $150 increase in taxes for the first year. Under a 20-year bond schedule, a house assessed at the same figure would see an estimated $190 increase in the first year.