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Ayer Historical Commission weighs significance of former fire station


By Jon Bishop

AYER — There is significance to the former Central Fire Station, which is located at 14 Washington St., the Historical Commission said at its meeting on Wednesday.

David Maher, director of community and economic development, and Jeffrey Garibotto of GS Holdings, the buyer of the fire station, came before the commission to offer updates on the project.

“We had a meeting with the CPC (Community Preservation Committee) two weeks ago, just to start there,” Garibotto said. At that meeting, he and his partner, Doug Shaw, were told that the building was of historical significance to Ayer, but it wasn’t listed on the historical registry.

“So that’s where we are in a nutshell,” he said.

So, he asked, should they keep the station looking the same? Is there significance?

“Of course there is,” said Ruth Rhonemus, the clerk.

“We think so,” added George Bacon, the chairman.

Garibotto said that he would have to do some upgrades to the wings of the building.

“They don’t look good,” he said.

Rhonemus asked that to eventually see a rendering of the new wings, and Bacon said that they would need a preservation restriction on the exterior.

Maher said that the fire station reuse project would be a big help for the Community Development Block Grant.

“Within our grant, you’re supposed to list things that are happening in the town,” he said. “This is another great project.”

The project proposal would convert the fire station into six to eight two-bedroom apartments, each 800 to 100 square feet. There is also the possibility of putting retail or office space or even a community center on the first floor of the building.

“Who knows? I’ve got to do some research” to see what would be a good fit there, said Garibotto. “We’re up for anything on that first floor.”

The commission unanimously voted to give preliminary support to the preservation portion of the project.

The bid for the property is $60,000.

As for the upcoming Town Report, Rhonemus said that she doesn’t yet have a draft, but said that this year, the commission will likely focus on the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, or WCTU, fountain, which is located outside of Town Hall. Last year, commission members focused on the Civil War-era Camp Stevens Muster Grounds.

Bacon said that the commission has the opportunity to acquire school records from Devens, Shirley, and Ayer.

“So is that something we want?” he said.

“Are we saying yes, drop them off here?” Rhonemus said.

Bacon said that they might as well look into it, adding that the members could throw the records away if they determine they don’t want to keep them.

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