In 2010, Tisbury is due to get a new ambulance. But there is nowhere to put it. Nor is there anywhere to put a new fire engine in 2012, when the old one will have completed 25 years of service.
One fire truck and a second ambulance already must be parked away from the main depots downtown. One current fire truck clears the station doorway by two inches when fully loaded.
When there is a major fire alarm, a horn blares at the station, not to summon firefighters but to tell those illegally parked out front to move their vehicles.
The many inadequacies of the current location of Tisbury’s emergency services were laid before those who attended a public meeting at the Tisbury School on Tuesday night, in a final effort by town officials to garner support for their plan to build a new facility.
At a Sept. 30 special town meeting voters will be asked to approve a new site for an emergency services facility, and also to borrow $640,000 to design it.
Town officials attended the meeting en masse. There were two selectmen, emergency service directors, fire and police, and representatives of the planning board, public works, the finance committee, the siting committee — nine or ten in all.
Assembled to hear them were about two dozen people, mostly parents of children at the school, which is right across the road from the site the town is proposing. The questioning after the presentations was brief and not heated.
Henry Stephenson of the planning board talked up the new site, saying it was convenient to all parts of town, and noting the school is already the designated emergency shelter. While he realized the school had issues with access (the likelihood is some playground area will have to be sacrificed to better parking), he said those issues were better addressed after the threshold question of whether the facility could be moved.
Fire chief John Schilling addressed issues of safety for school children. He said emergency responders are subject to the same road rules as everybody else and are trained drivers, subject to background checks and penalties for any driving lapses.
He noted that schools and emergency services sites are located adjacent to one another in Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and in West Tisbury (the charter school). There had been no safety problems for a number of years, he said.
Emergency services chief Jeff Pratt emphasized the positive aspect of having responders next to the school. “When we come here, how soon we get here is of paramount concern,” he said.
The West Spring street location would allow for up to 50 per cent growth in the future.
What had become of $20,000 allocated seven years ago to clean up aother site, someone wondered? It was still waiting to be spent.
Why do the fire and ambulance departments have to have such big equipment?
“We’re not choosing larger trucks because of testosterone,” Chief Schilling said. He said national standards dictated the size of vehicles. Mr. Pratt emphasized the point. He said the next ambulance would be too tall to fit.
Mr. Pratt agreed later that the meeting had gone well for the proponents.
“But it’s difficult to judge just from the attendance at the meeting,” he said.
“Let’s wait and see what happens at town meeting.”