EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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November 26, 2012

Study shifts fire substation to South Main

ANDOVER — The focus of finding a site to build a new Ballardvale fire substation has turned to South Main Street after the town hired another private firm to determine where it should be located.

The Ballardvale Fire Station Building Committee went back to the drawing board recently after many residents opposed a proposal to build the replacement station on the South Elementary School’s baseball field at the corner of Andover and Woburn streets.

A private lot at 270 Andover St., across the street from the field, was also considered.

The proposed station will replace the current Ballardvale Fire Station built in the late 1800s at the corner of Clark Road and Andover Street. The station doesn’t meet building codes and isn’t large enough for modern-day fire equipment.

Residents spoke out against both proposed sites because of traffic, hazards to children, distractions in school and making the neighborhood less desirable to potential home buyers.

To address the concerns, the committee hired Criterion Associates of Andover to study where the station should be located. A similar study was completed by New York-based Manitou Inc. in 2007, which concluded that anywhere within a quarter mile Andover and Woburn streets would be the ideal spot for the station.

The new study, which uses Fire Department calls data from the past five years recommends the station to be moved within a quarter mile of the intersection of South Main Street and Ballardvale and Wildwood roads, fire Chief Michael Mansfield said.

“We’re putting out a request for proposals this week, and we’re trying to see what land owners or property owners in that vicinity would be interested in making their land available to the town,” according to subcommittee Chairman Dan Casper.

There are no public land options in the target South Main Street area, however.

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