NORTH ANDOVER — It is likely that the town will build a new fire station within the next several years.
The central station, adjacent to the Town Hall on Main Street, is not considered adequate for today's apparatus, according to fire Chief Andrew Melnikas.
"We've outgrown this building," Melnikas told the Finance Committee this week.
The Facilities Master Plan Committee has recommended building a new fire station at Route 125 and Prescott Street, near North Andover High School. That panel has also proposed renovating the current station into offices for the Planning, Health and Conservation departments.
Another site for a new fire station that has been suggested is near Lawrence Municipal Airport on Route 125.
"That doesn't make any sense in my mind," Finance Committee member Benjamin Osgood said. Several decades ago, the town built a second fire station at Salem and Johnson streets, in the Old Center.
Building a new station at either the airport or near the high school would give the town two firehouses in the northern part of North Andover, Osgood noted.
It would make more sense to put a new firehouse closer to the eastern side of the town, where many new homes have been built, he said.
Osgood and other officials have adamantly stated they don't want the town to end up with three fire stations.
"We don't need a third station," Town Manager Andrew Maylor said.
Finance Committee member Thomas Dugan, who ran the session in the absence of Chairman Alan LeBovidge, said the panel needs to "get a map on the wall" so members can analyze where the most sensible location for a new fire station would be.
"The station needs to be in the right part of town," Dugan said.
Finance Committee member Ramsey Bahrawy said officials want "a long-term view" before committing to a particular proposal to build a new fire station. The Facilities Master Plan Committee has estimated constructing a new station at Route 125 and Prescott Street would cost $6.9 million.
Department heads have been presenting their budgets to the Finance Committee in anticipation of the June 12 annual Town Meeting.
Melnikas, police Chief Paul Gallagher and Emergency Management Director Jeffrey Coco presented their spending plans Tuesday night. Maylor has recommended a 3.5 percent increase for all departments.
So far, the Finance Committee has listened to the budget presentations, but hasn't made any recommendations. Dugan said he expects to board to start making recommendations in another month.
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