WOODBRODGE - The Fire station Building Committee presented three possible designs for a new fire station to the Board of Selectmen on last week. The Building Committee has been charged with the task of developing a viable plan for the construction of a new facility on the Fitzgerald property. The meeting was well attended, including members of the Board of Finance, the Fire Commission, and the Volunteer Fire Association.

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The drive to build a new fire station has been going on for many years but has met with little success. The existing fire station, built in 1938, cannot accommodate modern fire equipment or supplies. In 2004, the town voted down a referendum to fund construction of a new building, expressing concerns about the size, location and cost of the proposal.

In response to that defeat, the BOS generated a new plan to accomplish this goal. Amey Marrellaa, first selectwoman, stressed, "This is not the same proposal coming around again."

To begin with, they appointed a siting committee to evaluate the best location for a new station. The committee was compiled of residents, including members of various conservation civic groups, and an engineering consultant, SEA Consultants.

After evaluating six sites, including the present fire station, the committee concluded that, the best location was the Fitzgerald property. Marrella explained, "The Fitzgerald property was the best of the imperfect options."

Once the appropriate site was established, the BOS appointed a building committee to devise a plan to erect a new fire station. The committee hired the architectural firm Silver Petrucelli Associates, to design the building. David Stein, one of the principals of the Silver Petrucelli firm, and Dean Petrucelli, co-founder of the firm, unveiled the three drawings that the building committee had selected as the best alternatives to replace the old fire house.

All three schematics are viable options, satisfying the demands of the charge laid out by the town. All the buildings being considered are about 20,000 square feet in size. To minimize the impact on the site, the architects turned to two story construction. Each features five large bays to house apparatus or trucks, space to accommodate storage of everything in and behind the existing fire house and the capacity for allowable expansion to meet any potential future needs. In addition, all three renderings incorporate a 100 foot, unobstructed setback from residences and recreational facilities.

Another major difference in these latest proposals was a plan to hook up to the existing septic system at the library complex. This would eliminate the need to place a septic system on the Fitzgerald property. The architects had evaluated this possibility and felt the connection could be accomplished. At present, these plans are being reviewed by the Quinnipiac Valley Health Department.

These three options are all "sophisticated, state-of-the-art buildings that are going to stand the test of time," said Stein.

The architects added that each proposed building had inherent pros and cons. Petrucelli added, "These are our initial thoughts. Nothing is set in stone."

In terms of plans for the existing fre station, Stein said, "That is a project in itself but with a lot of potential. Architecturally, it is a gateway to the community."

Stating that the current building is in dire need of repair, Stein proposed some immediate maintenance interventions that could be accomplished at minimal expense but with great benefit, such as window replacements. With appropriate re-modeling and upgrading, Stein felt the building could house the antique fire truck and provide space for community use. He commented, "It's a great asset for the town."

Those who attended the meeting had a number of questions. Russ Arpaia, one of the volunteer fire fighters, expressed concerns about the flat roof construction proposed in schematic E. He also suggested the elimination of support columns in the apparatus bays.

Another fire fighter, Alex Rodriquez, pointed out that the angle of the bays needed to be considered carefully. "The slant of the bays may skew a fire fighters' perception when they back in a truck."

After a lengthy discussion, the BOS directed the Building Committee to return in two weeks to address some issues. The BOS asked for a written assessment of the pros and cons of each building and why the committee favored schematic E. In addition, the committee was to gather input from the Volunteer Fighter Association, the CUPAC, the Conservation Commission and Town Plan and Zoning.

A public forum is to be scheduled as soon as is feasible to open the discussion to the public at large. A flyer is being prepared to mail to residents, informing them of the time and location of the forum. In the meantime, information will be available at the library. Marrella requested that Silver Petrucelli make large scale reproductions available for the public.