By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, July 14, 2006
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- The Hampton Beach Fire Station Committee, charged with finding the most suitable location for a new beach fire station, is having second thoughts about its recommendation that it be built on the town's parking lot on Ashworth Avenue.
Committee Chairman Tom Gillick said while the committee is still adamant a new beach fire station should be in the vicinity of the Ashworth Avenue and Brown Avenue area, it is still keeping an open mind as to exactly where it will be constructed.
The committee is also now looking at a substation rather than a new headquarters.
While selectmen gave the committee its consent to proceed with its recommended location and design of a new fire station headquarters last month, it was apparent to the committee from the citizen reaction that it would be a good idea to look elsewhere.
Several residents expressed concern that if the new beach fire station is constructed in the town's parking lot on Ashworth Avenue it would eliminate an additional 150 parking spaces at Hampton Beach.
Gillick said the committee is now planning to offer selectmen four potential sites where the new sub fire station should be constructed.
At its last meeting, the committee discussed the possibility of the town acquiring certain parcels of land on Ashworth Avenue for the fire station to prevent the loss of additional parking.
Members also directed Gillick to set up a meeting with the Hampton Beach Village District commissioners about the future of the existing fire station.
The precinct, which owns the existing fire station, recently signed a new 38-month lease with the town to allow it to continue using the current beach fire station for $1 a year until a new building is constructed.
"If it was up to us, the No. 1 location would be its present location," Gillick said. "But whatever we recommend, it's going to be near Ashworth Avenue and Brown Avenue."
Hampton Beach Precinct Commissioner Chairman Gary Kubik said he doesn't want to see the new fire station at the precinct's location for the same reasons residents don't want it on the Ashworth parking lot -- the loss of parking.
The precinct has also discussed the possibility of constructing a multistory parking garage on the land it owns once a new beach fire station is constructed, but Kubik said no decisions on that have been made.
Selectmen Rick Griffin said he's glad the Hampton Beach Fire Station Committee is looking elsewhere for a location.
"I think the No. 1 reason that they're looking elsewhere is because everyone complained about it," Griffin said. "The public was not going to vote for it."
Griffin said he would like the new fire station constructed exactly where it's currently located.