Field Of Possible Fire Station Sites Narrows In Orleans

By: Ryan Bray

Topics: Infrastructure , Fire

The Orleans fire station. FILE PHOTO

Consultant Eliminates Two Of Three Properties From Consideration

ORLEANS – The town is officially down to one site on which to build a new fire station.

Ron Collins, the town’s facilities manager, told the select board June 9 that Kaestle Boos Architects, the firm hired as a consultant to work with the town’s fire rescue station feasibility study committee, is expected to have a “site suitability analysis” prepared for the board July 20 giving recommendations on the feasibility of three sites the town has been exploring for a new station.

But two of those sites, one on Bay Ridge Road and another on Main Street across from town hall, have been determined by the consultant to not be feasible, Collins said. That leaves land on Orleans Elementary School property adjacent to the current fire station as the only remaining site in consideration.

We hope to take this to the school committee if it applies to them the week before” going to the select board, Collins said.

Kaestle Boos examined what a 25,000-square-foot, single-story building and a two-story building at 18,000 square feet would look like on both properties. Collins said a building would fit at 18 Bay Ridge Lane, the site of the former public works highway building, but it would not leave enough room for driveways for fire apparatus to turn around. Adding the driveways would push the development right up against a filled embankment and abutting marsh, Collins said.

A new station at 139 Main St. would run right up against abutting property lines, including the Orleans Historical Society.

No matter how you do it, there’s no way to travel around the building with vehicles,” Collins said. The sloping topography in the area also poses a problem for building a station, he said.

Draft plans for both properties were received from Kaestle Boos last week, Collins said, and will be presented at a later date to the select board.

Kaestle Boos has not yet determined the feasibility of the one-acre site being looked at off Eldredge Park Way near the existing fire station. A rendering for the property that has been shared with the select board and the Orleans School Committee shows a new building in a currently wooded area south of the current station. Plans also call for the existing station to be demolished to make room for shared parking for both the fire department and elementary school, but the select board said it also wants to see options for keeping the current station intact.

We don’t have enough information yet on the elementary school,” Collins said. “It’s not a given just yet. Obviously there’s more features to look at there. As soon as that information becomes available, we’ll share it.”

While it remains to be seen how a new station at the site might impact future plans to renovate or replace the elementary school, the school committee has so far given its support to the location. But Collins said the site first needs to be found to be feasible before anything on the property can be considered.

The reason why we need this first milestone step is so we can start the development of architectural plans to really fine tune those details,” he said.

The plan is still to have a site identified in order to go to town meeting for design funding in the fall, but Collins said it will be a “hard push” to meet that deadline.

Town officials have struggled to find suitable site options for a new station, in part because a new station needs to be centrally located to keep department response times low. Tom Finan, who chairs the feasibility study committee, told the select board in April that attempts to solicit property owners to possibly sell land to the town for a new station have not drawn interest from residents.