New home for Ashland Fire
By Patricia Roy
The state of the soon to be former public safety buildings in town can be described in two words – old and older.
The Ashland Police station is a relatively youthful 44 years old, while the Fire Station clocks in at 95 years.
In 2008, the Mass. Municipal Association Consulting Group found a litany of items that needed to be remedied in both buildings. These included inadequate space for vehicles and equipment, no room for expansion, poor design and layout, no room to conduct training, inadequate facilities for female employees, as well as staff crowding.
The buildings’ locations by the railroad track poses a unique hazard; they are vulnerable to a derailment and passing trains delay emergency response.
The heritage-aged building problem is on the cusp of being remedied, however.
In 2018, voted $3,500,000 for construction documents and accepted the gift of land at 12 – 16 Union St., for a new Public Safety Building. An additional $27,000,000 was voted to complete the project.
The new structure will be 42,000 square feet with three stories, a one-story apparatus building with mezzanine, a sally port with police vehicle storage and a standing carport. There will also be a freestanding shooting range.
The ground level will contain the main entrance for the public, dispatch, booking area and cells, a roll call room,offices for police and a K-9 kennel.
The fire department will house a watch room, apparatus bay, training mezzanine, dorm rooms, day room and kitchen.
Both departments will share a fitness area. The third level will contain offices and conference rooms for both police and fire.
The expected completion date for the rapidly rising project is Sept. 9 of this year.
In May and early June, work has been ongoing on drainage and utility work, shooting range installation, antenna tower and traffic light foundations. Pads for the generator and dumpster will also be installed.
Some members of the town’s Public Safety Building Committee toured the building in progress with Owner’s Manager Bill Nangle.
They viewed the administration offices, dispatch room, living quarters and cells among other areas.
An exciting innovation – a green roof which is a layer of vegetation on top of a building is in progress. The advantage of this feature is energy savings through increased R-value (resistance of a material to heat flow) and stormwater management by controlling run-off and retention.
The National Park Service estimates that over a 40-year lifespan of a roof, there is some $200,000 in savings, mostly through energy costs.
With a spiffy new building in the works, one might ask what about the two venerable ones left behind.
So far, residents have suggested a mixed-use workspace, housing, art center or restaurant.
Demolishing the Police Station and putting up a parking lot would create an additional 50 spaces downtown.