By Stephen Seitz
KILLINGTON–Killington’s board of selectmen is looking for five citizens to help decide what to do with the volunteer fire department’s aging and deteriorating facilities.
Town manager Seth Webb said this is an important decision, and that the board wants to be sure the public has a large part in deciding what to do next.
“Essentially, the fire department facilities are in disrepair, don’t meet state standards, or the needs of the fire department,” Webb said. “The Town has to decide the next course of action. The selectboard would like citizens to guide that choice. They want citizens to weigh in on this important decision.”
The board has been studying the situation for quite some time. The Town commissioned the architectural firm of Dore & Whittier to examine the department’s two stations and determine the extent of the problems and offer alternatives for future consideration.
The board held a special meeting in July to learn the results, and according to the meeting summary, they learned that the Killington Road station has uneven floors, inefficient insulation, plumbing and electricity, no cross-ventilation, and inadequate storage space.
The station also fails to meet modern fire safety standards. It doesn’t have a sprinkler system, or the required two exits. Besides that, it doesn’t have enough toilets, and does not meet handicapped requirements.
The architects told the board that the current lot of the Killington Road fire station is too small, comprising less than an acre, and much of the parking is on a private lot nearby. The building is close enough to the street to cause traffic problems. Dealing with these may require purchasing new traffic signals. A nearby stream could subject the fire station to flooding. Also, there are no means currently in place to deal with stormwater. The 35,000-gallon storage tank and pumps will have to be replaced, should the current building be remodeled.
Whatever decision is made, purchasing extra land will be necessary.
Dore & Whittier gave the Town two alternatives: renovate the existing building, or to find a new site and build there. Webb said that no specific site is under consideration at this time. All studies being done on alternative sites are purely hypothetical.
The fire station on River Road, according to Dore & Whittier, needs enough space to store equipment in the future.
The architects presented a detailed breakdown of several possible proposals at a Sept. 23 selectboard meeting. These included: improving the existing buildings; improving the buildings and adding a new apparatus bay; a new fire station, with a police station included; a new fire station without a new police station; and a new station at some alternate site.
Dore & Whittier had two recommendations: “If the facility is to remain on the current site, it would be prudent to build new … because the cost of renovations would be significant without effectively meeting department’s needs,” the firm wrote. “To maximize flexibility regarding future growth, including the incorporation of a police department or other municipal services, it would be prudent to locate on the alternate site.”
The Fire Department Facilities Review Committee is to advise town government on what to do next. According to the town document describing the committee, “To do its work it is expected that the Committee will consider the short and long term needs of the Fire Department, review the study done by architects, Dore and Whittier, consult outside experts, and foster citizen participation in the review and recommendation process.”
The Town is accepting letters of intent to serve on the committee until Nov. 10, and would like to appoint the five members at its meeting on Nov. 11.
All information regarding the fire department’s condition, the committee, and the architects’ recommendations can be found on the fire department page of the town website, www.killingtontown.com.