|Williamstown Fire District Again Looks to Purchase Lehovec Property|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff|
05:13PM / Tuesday, August 01, 2017
|The Williamstown Fire Department spruces up one of its engines at the Water Street station prior to this year's July 4 parade. On Wednesday, the Fire District will take a step toward purchasing land for a new station.|
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Williamstown Fire District is headed to Round 3 on its attempts to purchase a Main Street parcel on which to build a new fire station.
The three-person Prudential Committee, which governs the district, has scheduled a special meeting for Wednesday at 2 p.m. at which the committee is expected to vote to sign a purchase-and-sales agreement on the 3.7-acre so-called Lehovec property at 562 Main St. (Route 2).
In 2013, the committee called two special fire district meetings
in an attempt to get an authorization from voters to approve a $575,000 purchase price for the property. Both times, the motion failed, garnering the support of the majority of the voters but not the two-thirds "super majority" needed to authorize the purchase.
Prudential Committee Chairman John Notsley said Tuesday morning that he began new negotiations with the estate of Kurt Lehovec this spring, shortly after he learned the applicant attempting to obtain a special permit to build a hotel on the Lehovec site was not going to appeal a Zoning Board of Appeals denial
of the special permit request.
Notsley said he would discuss the purchase price this time around at Wednesday's meeting, but he indicated it will be less than the $575,000 figure negotiated four years ago.
"And when we looked at it [in 2013], it had four buildings on the property that we would have had to remove," Notsley said, referring to residences that since have been cleared by the seller. "It's a win-win for the taxpayers, price wise."
An even more significant difference this time around may be the fact that there is no longer talk of a combined municipal safety building that could house the Police Department and Fire Department.
In 2013, the Fire District, a separate municipal entity with its own taxing authority apart from town government, was moving on a parallel track with the town, which also was looking to expand or replace the antiquated police facility at Town Hall.
Critics of the Fire District's proposal to acquire the Lehovec property then said that it would make more sense for the town and Fire District to work together and build a facility that works for both entities.
That led to the creation of a joint town-district committee that studied several sites, ultimately concluding that none of the available properties in town suited their needs.
In May, the town announced its intention to build a new police station on Simonds Road
(Route 7), a plan that will require approval of town meeting for the property purchase. Town Manager Jason Hoch has indicated that issue could come before the planned November special town meeting
to look at expanding the Mount Greylock Regional School District.
Notsley said Tuesday that the special fire district meeting to decide whether to purchase the Lehovec property likely will be in late September or early October.
He said the Prudential Committee likely will hold a second August meeting on Aug. 23 to hear an update from New Britain, Conn.,-based engineering consultant the Maguire Group, which did the initial study for the Fire District in 2013.