Plans moving forward for Pingree Grove fire station

The Pingree Grove and Countryside Fire Protection District is moving forward with plans to build a new fire station for its 50-square-mile coverage area.

The new station would be on 3.1 acres west of Reinking Road just north of Route 72 in the Cambridge Lakes North subdivision, Fire Chief Mitchell Crocetti said. The village board approved a resolution this week to donate just less than 1.5 acres to the fire district, which will purchase the rest from the Cambridge Lakes developer.

The fire district has about $2.7 million set aside for the $3 million project, and will budget another $500,000 next year, Crocetti said. Its annual budget is $2.5 million. Crocetti said he hopes to break ground in March and occupy the new station in the fall or 2013.

The district covers Pingree Grove plus 23 unincorporated subdivisions like Udina, Plato Center and Starks; it employees seven full-time firefighters, including the chief, and more than 40 on-call firefighters, Crocetti said.

The new fire station would replace the one in downtown Pingree Grove, just south of the railroad tracks. Right now, responders could be cut off from the Cambridge Lakes subdivisions if they get a call while a freight train is going through town, Crocetti said. The other two fire stations are even farther south.

“We’ve never had a delayed response because of the train, but it’s going to happen,” he said, adding a single train can take 20-25 minutes. Responders from fire districts in Hampshire, Rutland and Burlington would also respond to any call, he said.

The new station will have living quarters — now located in a trailer — and space for up to six vehicles with entrances on both sides, Crocetti said. There will be also plenty of room to expand. “We’re building it not just for today, we’re building for 30 years from now,” he said.

The district plans to sell its downtown fire station when the move is complete. Past village board members discussed buying the building as part of its long-range Heritage District master plan, but the current village board hasn’t tackled the topic, Village President Greg Marston said. “At this moment I can’t envision purchasing the property, but that is an opinion without information,” he said.

The new fire station is definitely needed, Marston said. “The village board is ecstatic about having a new state-of-the-art fire station to serve the new growing community,” he said.

Crocetti said he hopes to wrap up all land deals this month and soon select an architect for the project.

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