Officials choose location for new fire station

Officials choose location for new fire station

SMITHFIELD – A plot at 321 George Washington Highway is slated to be the location for the new Smithfield fire station along the Routes 116 and 7 corridors.

The Town Council decided in executive session Tuesday night to allow Town Manager Randy Rossi to enter into a purchase agreement for the 2.7-acre vacant lot in the light industrial zone.

Council President Suzy Alba confirmed the location.

The town agreed to pay $285,000, pending necessary due diligence, to owner Smile LLC of 1 Thurber Blvd. The property was assessed at $321,700 in 2020 and sold for $290,000 in 2002.

Voters approved a $4.5 million bond for the new station in 2018 to cut down on delays in service to the northern portion of town. According to fire officials, emergency response times in the northern corridor are between eight to 13 minutes while other areas of town have a response time of four to six minutes.

The town researched three other properties for the station in the immediate area. Prices ranged from $525,000 to $680,000 for properties. Chief Robert Seltzer previously said that the process of researching properties and holding out for better pricing on a state property delayed progress on the project.

He previously said he expected the sales agreement to go to the council in March, which was delayed due to COVID-19. In February, he anticipated groundbreaking in the fall.

Fall is no longer in play, he said, but after years of working and anticipation of the project, there is no need to rush.

“We want it done properly,” he said. “Everybody is excited to get to work on it.”

In the coming weeks, architects will finalize building plans and a civil engineer will look over the site to determine placement. Architecture plans will be similar to the three other brick stations in Smithfield.

Seltzer said every member of the Fire Department Building Committee favored the 321 George Washington location to others and said it kept “sticking out.”

He said the price allows for more money to go into the building rather than the property. The site has sewer and water hookups ready to go, something other sites lacked.

“The nice part about that (price) is being able to have money to put the money into the building and get it done properly,” Seltzer said.