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Fire station decision returns to Falmouth council

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Fire station decision returns to Falmouth council

FALMOUTH — A hearing on the anticipated closing of Pleasant Hill Fire Station may be the biggest attraction on a full agenda at next week's Town Council meeting, scheduled for Monday, Jan. 11.

Although the hearing and the approval by the council isn't technically required for Town Manager Nathan Poore and Fire-EMS Chief Howard Rice to close the fire station, councilors decided at a previous meeting to give residents one more chance to discuss the shutdown, which elicited opposition last spring.

The intent to close the station came out of a shift in staffing to other stations and the cost of repairs and upgrades to the aging building.

Most of the objections to last spring came from the station's neighbors, who were concerned that it would result in increased response times and loss of a local landmark often used for public functions.

Some firefighters also objected out of concern about the future of the station's volunteers. At that time, councilors elected to close the station for a six-month trial period while they evaluated the necessity of keeping the building open.

In a recent meeting, Rice presented statistics from the past six months that demonstrated no significant difference in response times and indicated a greater number of responders were able to be at fires more quickly. He also stated all active volunteers from the Pleasant Hill station were still active, working out of another station.

Monday's meeting will start at 6 p.m., an hour earlier than usual, with an hour-long executive session to discuss strategies with the town attorney for upcoming negotiations with Time Warner Cable. The company's contract with the town expires in the spring, Poore said Tuesday.

Other agenda items include a preview of budget season. While no action is expected, Poore will give a capital improvement plan budget presentation and councilors will take up the discussion of "core" versus "core-plus" services as they prepare to launch a online survey, Poore said.

The survey will seek public input on what "core-plus," or non-essential services and programs are important to residents, he said. A draft of the survey will be posted on the town Web site and the Finance Committee will meet at 10 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 14, to finalize the survey before it's issued.

Future use for the Brown property will also be discussed on Monday. Originally purchased by the town for use as a parking lot to service Town Landing, a community event last year suggested other uses, including community gardens and recreational space.

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net.