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Review of Upcoming Fire Station Could Conclude Before End of Month

The Planning Board continued its review of the plans on Wednesday night.

The upcoming new Chelmsford Fire Department station attached to town hall and its surrounding site plan continued to evolve after its latest review by the Planning Board on Wednesday night.

After the last hearing on the facility, various architectural spokespeople working for the town answered attempted to answer various questions left by the board.

However, the board continued to have concerns with the amount and location of parking spots on the site, in addition to possible congestion onto Chelmsford Street near the beginning and end of work days at the station and town hall, the beginning and end of meetings held at town hall and the beginning and end of baseball and softball games held near the lower parking lot, which will be more extensively used.

Concerns were also given from Kevin Ross, an abutter on Billerica Road, who noted 35 cars parked at the current lower lot for an event at the Center School a day earlier.

“I’ve lived here 30 years, and there will be different cars. You’re underestimating the amount of people using this parking lot,” said Ross, who also had concerns about the lighting of the facility and water runoff. “The extra dirt area, you consider it overflow, but it’s pretty normally used.”

After Planning Board member Susan Carter stated her belief that it would become difficult for people living in South Chelmsford to work at town hall given the reduced amount of parking on the upper parking lot on the southern side of the building, Town Manager Paul Cohen challenged the allegation that there will be congestion at certain times of the day.

“I’m in this building as much as anyone else, and in my six-and-a-half years in this building, I’ve never seen a considerable (car) queue (near closing time),” said Cohen. “This isn’t a plant where a whistle blows and everyone puts on their coat to leave simultaneously. I just don’t see that happening.”

The site will have 77 parking spaces during construction of the fire station, with a total 149 spaces upon completion of the project between regular and overflow parking near the new town hall/fire complex and the baseball fields.

Other changes included a smaller apron from the station onto Billerica Road, the addition of a “stormceptor” device to aid with drainage, less extensive landscaping to save money and a new architectural design.

The site plan was continued to the board’s next meeting with requests on additional information on drainage calculations, an antenna on the plan, information on the building’s cornbelling and a bikepath going around the ballfields, with the possibility that the hearing could conclude at the next meeting.

Tom Maggiacomo February 15, 2013 at 01:02 AM
bulding's cornbelling ??
Andrew Sylvia February 15, 2013 at 01:58 AM
Whoops, thanks for the catch. Corbelling, no "n".
ron johnson February 15, 2013 at 01:55 PM
"However, the board continued to have concerns with the amount and location of parking spots on the site, in addition to possible congestion onto Chelmsford Street near the beginning and end of work days at the station and town hall, the beginning and end of meetings held at town hall and the beginning and end of baseball and softball games held near the lower parking lot, which will be more extensively used." "Town Manager Paul Cohen challenged the allegation that there will be congestion at certain times of the day." Paul, I guess you do not drive through town at 5:00 ever. Really, no the concern is raised. Why not when this building was pushed through. It makes me wonder about the people making the decisons.
Kathleen J Murphy February 15, 2013 at 05:05 PM
It will be interesting too when people start complaining how complicated its going to be to access the town hall offices from the rear parking lot. It will be required for employees to park in the rear parking lot so on less busy days you can park out front.
Joanne February 17, 2013 at 06:49 PM
In addition to all the parking problems and congestion getting in and out of the lower parking lot onto Chelmsford St., who is considering the safety issues on either Billerica Rd. or Chelmsford St? It seems to me that the traffic report fell short. It considered the traffic volume would be within an acceptable 85% range, but mentioned very little about how dangerous both streets currently are, without the added impact of the fire station and headquarters to come. There are kids coming and going from the ballparks about 3 months a year, and there are kids on Billerica Rd. at 3 bus stops close to the town hall over 9 months of the year, much of the time in bad weather, getting on and off school buses 3 times a day. A cross walk is supposed to be the cure for that. Go figure.

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