Peterborough residents learn about fire station design plans

Seth MacLean presents the recent meetings and timeline of the fire station renovation during a previous Select Board discussion.

Seth MacLean presents the recent meetings and timeline of the fire station renovation during a previous Select Board discussion. COURTESY PHOTO

By JESSECA TIMMONS

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 09-18-2023 2:29 PM

The Peterborough Fire & Ambulance Building Committee presented design plans for a new fire station at two public meetings Thursday at Peterborough Town Library.

Sessions were at 3 and 6 p.m., with the same material presented at both. About 40 residents attended the afternoon session, where Assistant Town Administrator Seth MacLean provided a brief background of the project.

“It’s taken two decades to get to last May 22, when the voters of Peterborough approved this project at Town Meeting,” MacLean said. “Our fire and ambulance and building committees have done hundreds of hours of work to get to this point, and we’re excited to be moving forward. We’ve needed a new fire station for a long time.” 

The new Peterborough Fire Station complex, which has a budget cap of $12.1 million, would be located on Elm Street, adjacent to the Peterborough Community Center. The building committee, comprised of town employees and community volunteers, plans to recommend the project move into construction phase at 2024 Town Meeting.

Peterborough Town Treasurer Mandy Sliver, chair of the building committee, talked about the process of selecting the construction and design firms, stating that the committee chose SMP Architects of Concord unanimously after interviewing a total of 10 firms and visiting fire stations all over New Hampshire.

SMP specializes in municipal projects, including the Hopkinton Library and the Lamson Library at Plymouth State University. Harvey Construction, which also built the renovated Peterborough Town Library, has been chosen as the construction manager. 

Jason Lacombe, principal of SMP Architects, introduced the design of the 23,000-square-foot, one-story building with a “fly through” video showing the building from many angles. LaCombe noted the solar panels on the roof which, if included in the final design, would bring the building very close to net zero for energy consumption. 

Jay Cox of Peterborough asked “how many other towns in New Hampshire have a fire station that is 23,000 square feet,” and if “the other towns were going to help pay for this.” MacLean responded that the project had already been approved by Peterborough voters, and that the purpose of the meeting was to get design feedback from residents. 

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Recreation Committee member Kate Coon asked on behalf of the community center about changes in parking. LaCombe said community center will keep the existing 19 spots, and that an additional 54 spots will be marked out between the fire station and the community center. In addition, another 19 spots will be marked out near the motor pool building and the community gardens at the back of the complex.

Several residents asked about the proposed pedestrian walkway leading from the community center to the Shaw’s and CVS shopping complex. Leslie Lewis of the Budget Committee said, “We promised at Town Meeting we were building that pedestrian walkway, so we’re doing it. People feel very strongly about it; it’s not safe for people to walk on (Route) 101.” 

Francie Von Mertens asked if the design for the building included any future plans to incorporate the police station, a concept discussed in a previous master plan for the Town of Peterborough. Fire Chief Ed Walker responded that the town had voted in funds for a fire station only and that the police station was not a part of the current project. 

Leandra MacDonald raised concerns about traffic and fire trucks entering and exiting Elm Street so close to Route 101. 

“I think we need a traffic study there. I already go around the rotary sometimes to avoid making that turn,” MacDonald said. 

Lacombe responded that as far as the design plan, “we have not reached that level of detail yet, but we are open to all suggestions and we will look at that.” 

Several residents asked about the expense of  moving the Peterborough Fire Museum into the new building. LaCombe said the museum was only about 600 square feet and not a significant part of the cost. 

“That 1914 fire truck is incredibly special and a lot of people are probably not aware of it,” LaCombe said.  “We would love for people to see it in a beautiful new home, but all suggestions are on the table. This is your project.” 

Information about the Peterborough Fire Station project is available at peterboroughprojects.info/fire-am bulance-station