The Williamstown Financial Center, formerly a Howard Johnson's, has been discussed as a possible public safety building.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The committee looking at finding a new home, or homes, for the town's first responders continued Monday to assess various sites in town.
Chairman John Notsley reported Tuesday morning that the Public Safety Building Study Committee had "kind of a quiet meeting."
From his description of the proceedings, it appeared the committee was having little success finding a site that could accommodate a combined police and fire station. The potential for one building to serve both emergency services spurred the creation of the ad hoc committee this spring.
This summer, the Selectmen, which created the committee of members drawn from various town boards, added a representative from Village Ambulance Service to see whether that agency also could be housed in a multi-purpose facility.
Notsley also chairs the Prudential Committee, which oversees the Williamstown Fire District, a separate governmental entity from the Selectmen, which governs the Police Department.
He said Tuesday that several of the sites floated as possibilities for a combined facility would not work for various reasons.
The former Williamstown Financial Center on Main Street has a prime location, but Notsley contends there is not enough buildable land for a structure big enough to house two of the agencies. A privately held property on North Street that may be coming on the market has more land but a difficult turn for fire trucks to navigate to reach the road. The former town garage site on Water Street, down the hill from the current aging fire house, is too small for a combined facility, as is the spot on North Street being used by the Clark Art Institute for employee parking during the museum's renovation project, Notsley said.
"The conversation came back to the Lehovic property, and I was pretty emphatic," Notsley said, referring to the Main Street parcel on which the Fire District has a purchase-and-sales agreement.
"[Committee member] Dan Gendron wanted the Fire District not to go ahead with the purchase of it until everybody got caught up. My concern was we've been trying to get this property for almost two years, and we just don't want to lose it."
The Prudential Committee is moving forward with evaluating the site, located adjacent the former Agway on the north side of Main Street (Route 2). Notsley said an evaluation under the Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Material Release Act (Chapter 21E) gave the site a clean bill of health, and the Fire District is waiting on a topographical survey by Williamstown engineering firm Guntlow & Associates.
Once the survey is done and the Prudential Committee has more information from its architects, it will set a special fire district meeting to consider whether the district should approve the $575,000 acquisition of the 3.7-acre parcel from the estate of Kurt Lehovic.
"Obviously, it's going to be a vote of the town whether we buy the thing or not," Notsley said. "Hopefully within two months, we'll have a special district meeting."
With the topographical survey pending, the Prudential Committee has no plans to take up the matter of setting a date for the vote when it holds its regular monthly meeting Wednesday at the fire station.