Planning for new firehouse gets thumbs-up

November 19, 2013 2:00 AM

BREWSTER — Voters easily approved $230,000 for design and planning for a new fire station at special town meeting Monday night.

The vote — 213 in favor and 30 against — allows officials to go forward and hire a project manager, and do soil testing and other planning measures for the new building, which is to be located on the current station grounds at 1657 Main St.

The proposed cost of the new fire station is estimated at $13 million. But the exact cost would be brought back to the voters at a future town meeting.

The original building, constructed in 1974, was for both the Police and Fire departments. Back then, the Fire Department received about 200 emergency calls a year, said Brewster Fire Chief Robert Moran.

The department receives about 2,700 calls annually, Moran said.

Voters rejected a fire station proposal in 2001; in 2008, the selectmen removed a similar question from the town meeting warrant because of the economic downturn, said Selectman Peter Norton.

“This is a proposal that’s not only due, it’s overdue,” Norton said.

The only questions from voters pertained to the soil beneath the proposed spot, which is near wetlands.

But Selectman Ben deRuyter said the first money spent will be about $50,000 for soil and other site analysis.

If there is a problem, “we need to put the brakes on,” deRuyter said.

The voters approved spending about $1.3 million in community preservation funds, including $600,000 to buy land for an undefined number of deed-restricted affordable homes to be built by the nonprofit organization Habitat for Humanity.

Another $600,000 will go to the Brewster Housing Authority for the construction of 50 units of low-income rental housing. Additionally, $25,000 in Community Preservation Act money will pay for open space purchase planning, and $39,400 will cover the cost of improvements to the Eddy Elementary School playground.

Several articles were indefinitely postponed, including an article to petition the state to allow the town to charge room excise taxes on the rental of homes, cottages or apartments for less than 90 days.

A bylaw to limit the use of fertilizer also was postponed indefinitely.

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