EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 19, 2013

Land offers sought for Ballardvale Fire Station

By Dustin Luca

---- — ANDOVER — The Ballardvale Fire Station Building Committee is resubmitting its plea for South Main Street residents to offer their land for a new fire station — and this time, they’re hoping to talk to the land owners more directly.

Town officials issued a request for proposals (RFP) in December, asking residents near the intersection of South Main Street and Belknap Drive to offer their land for sale to the town.

The RFP received no responses, but the need to build a fire station has not gone away, according to committee Chairman Dan Casper.

“We’re still looking for a site in the south Andover area,” Casper said. “We’re still stuck looking for a place, and maybe if we target some properties, maybe we can develop some interest so that, maybe, somebody will be willing to come forward and talk to us.”

The station, if it were to find a home and be approved by town residents, would replace the Ballardvale Fire Station built in the late 1800s for horse-drawn fire apparatus.

A new study commissioned by the committee has targeted a land radius around South Main Street, Ballardvale Road, Belknap Drive and Suncrest Road as a suitable place for a new station, according to Fire Chief Mike Mansfield.

Though the committee has been working with the study and revising it in recent meetings, a draft version of it wasn’t available last week, Mansfield said.

Knowing what the study recommends — build a new station in south Andover, and eventually either relocate or build a station in west Andover — the committee plans to write to property owners in the study’s targeted area that have land suitable for a station, Casper said.

A map in Mansfield’s conference room outlines ideal properties, he said. They include the following blocks of land: 383 South Main St.; 387 South Main St.; the Faith Lutheran Church at 1 to 9 Wildowod Road, and the home of Creative Living Inc. at 368 South Main St.

Two square blocks of land made up of a couple parcels each, at both South Main Street and Suncrest Road corners, are also identified on the map.

There is still a sense however that last year’s proposal, near the South Elementary School at the corner of Andover and Woburn streets, is the best home for the site. While officials considered the site to be ideal for a new station, stiff neighborhood opposition drove officials back to the drawing board in search for another option.

“The committee has agreed not to take the site at Andover and Woburn streets out of consideration for the potential sites,” Mansfield said.