Construction of new Mass. fire station 'long overdue'

The $6.6 million project for the building will be the new home of the fire department in over 100 years

The Eagle-Tribune

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — The construction of the new North Andover central fire station has begun, and a host of public officials showed up at the Chickering Road site Tuesday morning to make it official.

Hutter Construction Corp., began preliminary work on the $6.6 million project at the beginning of November, but Tuesday's groundbreaking marked the official start of the construction process for the building, the new home of the town fire department in over 100 years. 

Since 1909, the central fire station has been next door to Town Hall, at 124 Main St. But the building's small size and outdated training facility forced the town to look into a new home for the department. After reviewing five potential sites, the space on the corner of Chickering and Prescott Street, directly behind North Andover High School, was chosen. 

Addressing the crowd of about 25 people, Town Manager Andrew Maylor said the groundbreaking ceremony marked an "important day for a number of reasons" for the town.

"We're very happy to finally see the facility construction behind us, and it's great to see us marching along with the Facilities Master Plan," Maylor said. "The town has done a great job in identifying all of the facilities within the master plan, and this one, perhaps, may be the most significant." 

The Facilities Master Plan, approved at Town Meeting in 2012, focuses on the construction and reconstruction of buildings throughout North Andover. Both the new school administration building being built on Osgood Street, as well as the fire station, are part of the plan. 

Selectmen Chairman Richard Vaillancourt said without such a detailed proposal, projects like the new fire house would not be possible. 

"It's amazing to see what can happen when you pull everything together and make a plan," Vaillancourt said. "It's much more effective than just saying 'we're going to do it.' It's great to see the fruit of the plan all over town." 

Maylor said there have been plans for a new fire station "for decades." Former fire chief William Dolan had advocated for a new station for years, and current chief Andrew Melnikas continued to push for the project following Dolan's retirement in 2007. 

Both men attended Tuesday's groundbreaking.

"This is a long overdue event," Melnikas said. "This vision has finally come to fruition because of the amazing support of the town and our town fathers. Today has a little extra meaning (for Bill and I)." 

The new station will cover just under 10,000 square feet and look similar to the high school, with a brick exterior covering about two-thirds of the building. A fiber cement siding will cover the rest, and glass doors will welcome visitors into the station. 

Maylor said the fire department will move into its new station next fall. 

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