WILLIAMSTOWN -- The town is set to further study a Main Street property that could potentially hold a joint fire and police station.

A consultant's report for the Public Safety Building Study Committee shows the Lehovec property at 562-580 Main St. to be favorable for a joint facility. In contrast, the former Williamstown Financial Center at 296 Main St. was found to be favorable only for a police station.

Selectmen have already authorized the committee's use of $25,000 for site studies. Selectwoman Jane Patton, who chairs the committee, was directed by Selectmen Monday to find out how much money remains to be spent. John MacMillian, of Reinhardt and Associates, the Agawam firm which conducted the study, would then be directed to study wetlands on the Lehovec site.

The study, presented to officials last week, lists several advantages to the 3.7 acre property -- preliminary drawings by MacMillian show the land could accommodate a drive-thru apparatus bay commonly found in new fire stations, and the town could purchase two vacant, quarter-acre lots just west of the site for additional space.

But MacMillian noted wetland mapping needs to be verified, and said he would need permission from the Lehovec estate to go onto the property.

The Fire District has already made two attempts last fall to purchase the site. Residents rejected the $575,000 purchase at two separate special Fire District meetings.

The Financial Center could potentially be renovated to be a police station, MacMillian said. But site constraints, including the property sloping off in the rear, makes it unfavorable for a fire station. The property couldn't accommodate a drive-thru apparatus bay for trucks, he said, meaning trucks would have to back into the bay from busy Route 2.

"The building wasn't designed to seismic requirements of the day," MacMillian said. "Renovating a facility does have costs associated with making seismic updates. With other towns, it has been enough to preclude development."

The property's acquisition cost of $1.7 million is high, he noted, and siting a facility there would remove nearly $20,000 in tax revenue.

To reach Edward Damon:
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