Letter to the Editor: A Statement from Carol Amick and Bill Moonan about 139 The Great Road

~ Submitted by Carol Amick and Bill Moonan

We are saddened and disappointed that the Select Board failed to follow the statutory procurement process in its actions to identify a site for a new fire station.  We all know that their vote declaring 139 The Great Rd. “unique” was baseless, as there are other larger and wider properties that would have better accommodated the fire station design and kept our firefighters from serving as traffic cops, a necessary requirement to get the ladder truck into the narrow 139 Great Road site.

We are also disheartened that the Select Board chose 139 The Great Road in secret, instead of following Bedford’s tradition of public participation and inclusion, using a committee of citizens and elected officials to evaluate potential sites.  This is the process that the Town has used for decades to procure or modify its municipal facilities.

Had the Select Board instead chosen to treat our community as willing and insightful participants in Town decision-making, rather than self-serving outsiders, residents could have weighed in on a number of possible locations, including the one the Select Board itself chose in 2020 (175 The Great Road), and another site (the Bedford Motel at 30 North Road), that is just as close to the current fire station as the site that the Select Board now claims is “unique.”  Both of these sites were on the Select Board’s list of finalist sites.

It has been gratifying to hear from so many residents who have told us that, given a choice, they would have picked the Bedford Motel site because a fire station in that part of the Historic District would have had the least impact on the streetscape, which is visually commercial, and is large enough to provide a four-bay fire station with rear access to the bays for ease of repositioning fire apparatus.

We were not motivated as abutters to try to stop this sale.  We believe Town officials’ promises that a berm topped with shrubs and trees would be constructed between our property and 139 The Great Road to serve as an adequate natural barrier between our residence, which is two football fields away from the proposed firehouse site.  Instead, our motivation was and continues to be to protect our precious Center Historic District.  Bedford will be a less appealing place in the future if our elected officials are allowed to cause serious and irremediable damage to the best part of the Historic District. This District is an important memorial to our rich history and the contributions of our early residents.  To destroy a key historic home in the District for a fire station (with a projected 20-year useful life) will deprive current and future citizens of access to their heritage.  This is short-sighted and tragic.

From the Opinion Editor’s note: At 455 words, this statement exceeds our 400-word limit per letter but since it concerns today’s action by the Select Board regarding the purchase of 139 The Great Road, it was decided that we should publish it in full.


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Marilyn Cronin
Marilyn Cronin
3 months ago

Why can’t all the citizens in the town have a say in regard to a location for the Fire Station? Why does it have to be on the Great Road with the traffic problem we already have?

Jennifer Cunningham
Jennifer Cunningham
3 months ago

I find these justifications self-righteous in the extreme. A toddler in the grocery checkout line might have Very Good Reasons for wanting that candy bar but after the initial no, the ensuing tantrum and kicking and screaming is just painful and embarrassing for everyone. The “serious and irremediable” damage is that which Mr. Moonan and Ms. Amick have done to our community by attempting not once but twice to circumvent the will of town meeting and our democratically elected Select Board. Who knows, maybe they’re right that the Bedford Motel was a viable option after all but…so what? Does that justify taking it upon oneself to undermine and destroy community trust? Stone walls and clapboard are nice to have. But I’ll take functioning norms of civility and respect (not to mention a safe fire station) any day. Shame on you.

Virginia
Virginia
3 months ago

While I agree with Amick and Moonan that the Bedford Motel is “just as close to the current fire station as the site that the Select Board now claims is ‘unique'”, I don’t understand why that matters. Was it a requirement the new fire station be a certain distance from the current one? Seems to me what actually matters is how long it takes to get from the new fire station to all parts of town (not just the current station) so no one has to wait too long for help in a fire.

Earlier, Amick and Moonan offered another property they own as a site for the new fire station. If the Select Board had accepted that offer and brought it directly to Town Meeting for a vote, would Amick and Moonan have objected because it didn’t follow the statutory procurement process they keep insisting must be followed? Seems unlikely.

Could the Select Board have done some things differently or better? Probably. But as far as I can tell, nothing in Amick and Moonan’s lawsuit or this letter is new information voters didn’t have before approving 139 Great Rd. And while this letter mentions “so many residents” who prefer the Bedford Motel location, I know multiple people on the Lexington/Burlington side of town who worry the motel is too far and would vote against it. There is no guarantee 2/3 of Town Meeting would have approved the Bedford Motel for the new fire station even with a willing seller.

I could go on, but really what I want is for arguments that feed the “us vs. them” monster to stop. For the animosity and legal coercion to stop. For the town to be able to move forward and get the new fire station built, something I think most people on all sides agree is both needed and long overdue.

And for those whose priority is to protect our Historic District, this can still be accomplished by working with the town to:
-Suggest suitable new locations for 139 Great Rd’s historic building.
-Help identify or raise funds to move and preserve it.
-Provide feedback on proposed designs for the new fire station, when available, to ensure the station reflects our Historic District’s character.

Last edited 3 months ago by Virginia
Thomas Kenny
Thomas Kenny
3 months ago

I have always considered a Towns Firehouse to be central part of a Towns character and community. Something to proudly showcase instead of hide away. I am confident that this new central and prominent location will be designed in consideration of Bedford’s Historic district and make all it’s citizens proud. My feeling is that the Select Boards actions were in line with the best interest of the Town and the will of the voters, and given the shortened timeline for action, did an admirable job.

Kayla Piskuliyski
Kayla Piskuliyski
3 months ago

“Bedford will be a less appealing place in the future if our elected officials are allowed to cause serious and irremediable damage to the best part of the Historic District.”

As a face of Bedford’s proverbial “future” (parent of two young kids who we plan to raise here through their adulthood), I am offended by the above line. No, Ms. Amick and Mr. Moonan. I can assure you there are plenty of us who think our first responders deserve nothing less than a brand new, state-of-the art fire station smack in the center of town. *They* are far more important than any stone wall or old building. And I’ll be sure my children–the next generation of citizens you speak of–recognize that fact above all else.

Benjamin Root
Benjamin Root
3 months ago

I grew up 3 houses away from a fire station on the main street of another town. The fire station was iconic and nobody complained that it shouldn’t belong there between homes and businesses.

And let’s be clear, we are talking about the carriage house, not the home. Not to say that one is lesser than the other, but let’s not confuse people about which structure is being discussed.

McClain, John
McClain, John
3 months ago

“…if our elected officials are allowed to cause serious and irremediable damage….” I think you missed that 2/3rd vote of town meeting also approved of the plan. Hardly just our “elected officials”.

Mario Mendes
Mario Mendes
3 months ago
Reply to  McClain, John

The people’s vote don’t matter to those two. Only that the elected officials did not stop on their tracks when they decided not to have a fire house in their backyard.

Nancy Wolk
Nancy Wolk
3 months ago

This is a unique property because it will save the town at least $6M dollars in purchasing money. The judge who did not grant an injunction is a specialist in the law and made it clear that they didn’t think your lawsuit has merit.

The Bedford Motel is not up for sale. It’s not a great location. Traffic is terrible in the morning and evenings. I couldn’t even get in to buy ice cream at the adjacent property last night and it wasn’t even that busy! We all know that forcing “those people” out of Bedford Motel would make some residents happy.

Things didn’t go the way Moonan and Amack wanted. So now they just cost the town $150,000 more and have made it clear they think they know what is best for the town over the 2/3 who voted for 139 Great Road.

I’m calling a spade a spade. This is NIMBY. You don’t want it there. But stop acting like you’re doing the town a service, because all you are doing is causing conflict and hurting the town.

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