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Sunday, February 5, 2012

New site selected for ambulance facility in Milford

MILFORD ­– Faced with soil contamination at their first choice for a town ambulance facility site, town officials have settled on another property – the home of Harvey’s Music at 66 Elm St.

Recent environmental testing found oil in the soil of 21 Cottage St., which had been the town Facilities Committee’s top choice for a free-standing ambulance building. Now 66 Elm St., one of about six properties the town Facilities Committee investigated, moved to the top of the list.

The $2.2 million proposal for a four-bay ambulance facility is Article 3 on the town warrant for March 13 voting. At the Deliberative Session on Saturday morning residents put the article, and 28 other articles, on the warrant for voting on March 13.

“Everyone’s feeling is that taxpayers will not pay” for further testing or cleanup, Mark Fougere of the Facilities Committee told The Telegraph before the meeting. The landowner will not agree to pay for cleanup, he said, so the committee looked at the next best option, based on a 23-point system it used to rate potential sites.

The ambulance service has been housed in Town Hall since 1975 and the need for new space is considered dire; this year will be the third effort to get voter approval.

Deficient space has been a “constant problem” for the department, Director Eric Schelberg told the approximately 50 people in the audience.

With the need to replace the two ambulances – one vehicle is nine years old and the other 13 – the situation has become critical, he said, because replacement vehicles will be too large for the Town Hall bays.

Both the Board of Selectmen and the Advisory Budget Committee support the project.

“We need this facility,” said Selectman Kathy Bauer, who also noted low interest rates make this a good time to borrow money.

Harvey’s Music is located at the corner of Elm and Columbus Avenue, near the SHARE Outreach office, and not far from the signaled intersection at West Street.

The meeting lasted four hours, and all 29 articles will go onto the ballot, including a $11.7 million operating budget and money for a replacement fire engine, a backhoe, fireworks, conservation land purchases, community bus service, social services, two employee contracts and the first phase of the Jennison Road bridge replacement.

There is also a petition article to increase the income limit for elderly tax exemptions.