May 16, 2008 
Firm to design new fire station

Goffstown News Correspondent

The town has hired a firm to design a new fire station, recommend where it would be best to build it and help officials educate voters about the project, if they choose to follow through with it.

That decision on the design was made by the Board of Selectmen at its weekly meeting Monday, May 12th. The board also approved a new chaplain position for the Fire Department, discussed what to do about traffic delays at one of the town polling places and weighed possible changes to fees and fines.

Fire Chief Richard O’Brien said the three existing, aging fire stations in town could not accommodate 24-hour, all-week fire service, are too small for some fire vehicles and do not have the capabilities of some modern facilities, such as the ability to decontaminate equipment.

In the process of designing a new station, the fire chief said the department will also look at ways it can be more efficient.

The firm, Kaestle Boos Associates Inc. of Portsmouth, will be doing the engineering and architectural design for the town, at a cost of about $24,700. The firm will work on the design of the new station as well as pinpoint possible locations. The design will be completed by November, according to O’Brien.

The board also told O’Brien that he could establish a volunteer chaplain position for the Fire Department. He said his department will search for a chaplain within its ranks, but could also tap a local minister.

The chaplain would help the department and community deal with a firefighter who had been injured or killed in the line of duty. He would be spearheading a new comprehensive program for notifying the families of those firefighters and helping them deal with the aftermath.

The chaplain, who must be an ordained clergyman, would be on hand at the scene of an incident and would also be expected to visit a firefighter in the hospital, according to a three-page job description. On a routine basis, he would visit fire stations, attend Fire Department events, such as funerals, and be on call 24 hours a day.

“This position, I feel, is very needed in every department across the nation, and Goffstown is no exception,” O’Brien said.

The Police Department also has a chaplain position, which is vacant. O’Brien said he modeled the Fire Department position after the police counterpart, in addition to national standards. Nick Campasano, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said applicants for fire chaplain should be asked if they could be available for police, until that department fills its own position.

Other business

The owner of four properties between Depot Street and the Piscataquog River in Goffstown Village asked that the land be included in the area the town is asking the state to exempt from the Shoreland Protection Act, which imposes some restrictions on development within 250 feet of water.

Maurice Blondeau, who shares ownership of the properties with his family, noted that the exemptions had stopped at his property line.

“I think it’s unfair,” Blondeau said. “Whoever they’re looking out for, it wasn’t with us in mind. I think it’s a blatant oversight.”

His mother, Vivian Blondeau, is a selectman. After recusing herself as a town official from the discussion, she urged the board to consider expanding the exemption, since the property is zoned for commercial or industrial use. She said it was the largest property zoned for that use in that part of town.

Campasano warned that approving the request would trigger even more from other property owners. Selectman Phil D’Avanza, on the other hand, said that he did not want to create any more obstacles for industrial development. The board deferred a decision to its May 19 meeting.

The selectmen also discussed what to do about traffic delays during the presidential primary at the Goffstown High School polling place. Town Moderator Rodney Stark said he received a letter from an assistant attorney general saying that some voters had to wait an hour or more to park their cars before voting.

The official said that was a violation of a state rule that voters should not have to wait longer than 10 minutes.

Stark said he thought that rule applied to the time voters spent waiting in line inside the polling place.

Selectmen aired several possible ways they could alleviate the situation in time for the September state primary and the November general election. One included adding more police — an idea which was welcomed by Stark.

“I don’t think there’s any question, I’ve always thought we needed more police, but they haven’t been allotted,” Stark said.

He added that he has not actively been pushing for more police.




Reproduced by the Goffstown Residents Association.


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