The Selectmen agree that the fire station needs investment but noted the town has other buildings that also are in need of repair.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — A special town meeting has approved a transfer of $85,000 from the stabilization fund to repair the collapsed fire station roof.
Mostly former and current volunteer firefighters filled out the just more than 50 residents who attended Thursday's special town meeting for the sole purpose of passing a single article that would allocate funds to make the emergency repairs.
"This is why we are here tonight," Selectwoman Carol Francesconi said. "This is what stabilization is supposed to be used for — emergencies and this is truly an emergency."
A two-thirds majority was needed for passage and voters overwhelmingly supported the article with a vote of 53 in favor. Only one or two hands came up in the negative.
The town initially wanted to make minor repairs to a section of the roof, but extensive rot was found prompting work to stop.
The contractor in the interim covered the opening with tarps to keep water out until a solution could be found but, in early August, this section of the ceiling collapsed over the chief's office and the bathrooms.
The damaged area was covered once again and the town surveyed the rest of the roof to make sure other parts were not on the verge of falling in.
The town found that the only immediate problem area was the portion of the roof that collapsed, however, a total rebuild of this section was needed and estimated to cost nearly $80,000.
With rain still causing water damage within the station and winter coming, the Selectman scheduled a special town meeting immediately.
The town has close to $600,000 in stabilization.
No one took issue with the money or the project but there was some concern about deferred maintenance at the station and in town in general.
Assistant Fire Chief Jason Mendonca said there are other roof issues throughout the building and the bay floor is in bad shape. He added garage doors need to be replaced and a portion of the foundation has collapsed.
"Never once have we taken a proactive approach on how we manage the building we have always been reactive," he said. "I am not asking for money I am just saying this is another step in events in the 18 years I have been on this department where we have just reacted."
He added that the volunteer department has made improvements to the building out of its own budget and asked if the damaged interior would be repaired.
The Hoosac Hose Company has been housed in the former Lamb's Garage on South Street since 1986.
Francesconi said the amount appropriated will cover interior repairs and that the town plans to shore up the entire roof as originally planned.
There was a motion at the end of the meeting to fund a study to survey the fire station and its needs as well as other options.
The Selectmen noted that they could not allocate money for this but do plan to form a committee and take a hard look at the building.
"We are going to do it anyways this was on our agenda but we have been burdened with the school," Francesconi said, referring to the closed Cheshire School that is now the town's responsibility. "We are aware that there are multiple buildings that need study and repair but we need to do this first."
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Named after the former pastor of St. Mary's Church, the Rev. Thomas Begley, the site will serve through-hikers of the Appalachian Trail and give them a place to regroup for a night or two while charging electronics, replenishing their water supply, and getting rid of refuse
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