By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Tuesday, November 15, 2005
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- The Hampton Village Precinct Commissioners said they want a new fire station at the beach but they are not sure that the current location is the best spot for it.
Precinct Commissioner Mike O'Neil told selectmen Monday night they would like to see the new substation constructed at the beach without it affecting parking.
While Fire Chief Hank Lipe suggested constructing the station right where the old one lies on Ashworth Avenue, O'Neil said the Church Street sight would be better alternative because it would not eliminate any beach parking spaces.
"We need to work together on parking in general at the beach," said O'Neil. "We don't want to eliminate any parking from the Ashworth hotel to the end of the beach."
O'Neil said it's doubtful the town would construct a parking lot at the Ashworth parking lot in front of the police station, and the precinct parking lot, behind the fire station, is the only place that offers overnight parking.
If the town was to construct a new substation at current station's location, it may take up some of the parking the precinct provides.
Lipe said the reason why he is recommending the current site for a new substation is response time.
"I hate to see us lose that location and right now I think it's ideal," Selectman Cliff Pratt said.
Selectmen are still formulating a plan on what to present to voters for a new fire station and the cost associated with it. Currently, the board is discussing constructing a substation at the beach and adding an administrative wing on Station 2 on Winnacunnet Road at a price tag of $4.9 million.
The precinct currently leases the fire station on Ashworth Avenue for a $1 a year. The agreement is set to expire in April 2006 and only offers an extension if the town commits to building a new fire station.
O'Neil told selectmen Monday night that they are more than willing to sign a lease extension and they have no intention of "kicking them out."
"The selectmen need to come up with a concrete plan," said O'Neil. "I think the town would be better served by not putting forward a proposal for a new fire station this year until it performs a study on where the best and cost effective location would be."