WESTBOROUGH, Mass. – Westborough residents have spoken: They want to see a new fire station in town.
At the special fall Town Meeting on Monday night, residents voted 233 to 96 to appropriate $11.2 million for construction of a new fire station and to demolish the existing one. The 70 percent approval from residents was enough, as the article needed 66.6 percent majority.
The approved article will authorize borrowing $10 million and transfer $1.2 million from free cash. The first-year debt service is estimated to be about $850,608, which is $109 for the average single-family home.
In May, residents voted against the measure on a ballot question, but Monday was a different story.
Before the vote was taken, town officials said the current building is not structurally sound and is in dire need of replacement. They said it is half the size of what’s needed for a modern fire station. The building is 14,000 square feet, while the new building would be 28,000 square feet.
The debate included an onslaught of residents who opposed the funding for a new fire station. Vincent Borkowski, who has been a vocal opponent against the debt exclusion since the last Town Meeting, told the audience that he is worried about the financial implications.
“There are going to be other construction projects in town, the police station and Town Hall. We need to scale projects back and keep costs down,” Borkowski said. “I support public safety, but I am also concerned with the financial safety of the Westborough homeowner.”
After some other individuals said the new fire station is a high-cost approach and the building was still structurally sound, Selectmen Chair Leigh Emery fought back with a fiery speech in support of the new station.
“There is no question in my mind that this will come in at the most reasonable price it can possibly come in at,” Emery said. “We have several people in the audience who seem to think they are architectural experts and can tell how sound the Fire Department is. If they had done any touring that the Fire Department has offered, then they would realize how unsound it is.
“We’ve had two very well-respected architectural firms tell us that this is an unsafe building and cannot be brought up to code,” Emery continued. “It needs to be brought up to code, so we’ve got to build a new building.”
The residents ended up agreeing with Emery, approving the article for a new fire station.