The current Union Square fire station is a converted car barn from the 1930’s. The Lowell Street fire station is undersized for today’s equipment. The City of Somerville is looking to replace the two inadequate stations with one up to date facility.
Interim Fire Chief Patrick Sullivan outlined these deficiencies for SNN, explaining, “The union square station has been hit with many disasters over the recent years with flooding, very prone to flooding, which caused a problem for storing apparatus, because it was at risk of getting damaged. The Lowell street station is a single one-story firehouse, there’s no basement, no real workshop area where the fire fighters can do their maintenance of some of their equipment. No set training facilities, they’re just inadequate to today’s fire service needs.”
The city considers a currently unoccupied one-acre parcel of land at 515 Somerville Avenue to be the ideal location for a 6-bay fire station, equipped with a training facility and space for maintenance work. The lot is current owned by an independent construction company with a different vision for the land.
Vincent Beaudet is an owner of the parcel and currently has development plans before the city to build residential housing units on the site. Beaudet explained, “We bought this land in May of 2014, with the intention to improve the site and build housing that is sorely needed in Somerville. We’re hoping to build apartments with a beautiful outdoor green space and gardens and fountains, and really improve this area.”
Within six months of buying the parcel, Beaudet received a notice from the city explaining its intention to take the land through eminent domain in order to build the new fire station.
When the Spring Hill community heard about the city’s plans dozens of residents formed the Save Spring Hill committee; most agreeing that residential housing would be a better fit for the neighborhood than a six bay fire station.
Deborah Hughes, is a founder of the committee and a resident of Spring Hill. Traffic safety is just one of the issues she sees with building a new fire station at 515 Somerville Avenue, “I actually live right off of Park Street, which is the connector to Somerville Avenue which would be right at the nose of where the fire station replacement would be. It’s simply not possible for a fire truck to respond quickly and safely exiting onto Somerville Avenue and going toward Park Street with the level of traffic that is here now.”
The city’s plan is currently working its way through the legislative process and is being discussed by the Board of Alderman. Once a decision is made by the city, the proposal will go back to the community for public comment and input. A construction time line will be set from there. Meanwhile, the lot sits empty and Beaudet’s plans remain in limbo.
Somerville Neighborhood News is a production of Somerville Community Access Television, made by professional journalists, volunteers and staff. The half-hour news show has as its mission to provide a lively, informative newscast focusing on the events, issues and information impacting Somerville residents.