Published DateSANBORNTON — Selectmen decided unanimously last night to send a letter to the Belmont selectmen telling them that they don't want to completely shut the door on future discussions regarding the former Winnisquam Fire Station.
The board also spoke about forming a special town committee that would consist of a selectmen, a member of the Budget Committee, the fire chief and at least one member of the general community to discuss the town's future fire needs as they relate to Belmont and the Tilton-Northfield Fire District.
Board members said they would hold off on forming the committee until they learn if the Belmont selectmen are still willing to talk with Sanbornton.
The move was triggered by a number of factors including the decision by Belmont selectmen on February 11 to not have any further discussions with Sanbornton about the Winnisquam Fire Station after learning that the Sanbornton selectmen weren't interested in any of the four proposals presented to them for the Winnisquam Station.
After reading that Belmont selectmen didn't want any further discussion about Winnisquam, members of the community, most of them from the Winnisquam area of town went to the February 13 Sanbornton selectman's meeting, and expressed their dissatisfaction to their board.
Chief Paul Dexter said last night that the plans were worked up in a meeting between him, Tilton-Northfield Fire Chief Brad Ober and Belmont Fire Chief Dave Parenti would serve the bests interests of the entire town of Sanbornton.
At Nickerson's request, Dexter said in the future if the three meet again, he would provide them "minutes" about the meeting.
He elaborated last night by saying that one of the plans, that would cost Sanbornton about $37,000 annually, would staff the Winnisquam Station during weekdays and that is the same time that his station is staffed.
He said it would make sense to him to reopen the Winnisquam Station if the plan was to provide some kind of 24-7 coverage — a plan that could cost about $100,000 each for Sanbornton and Tilton-Northfield and twice that for Belmont.
Dexter also added that while the Winnisquam Station was structurally fit for equipment, in his opinion it was not equipped to house an emergency call squad 24 hours a day.
He also said that "was upset" by the idea that Sanbornton would send $37,000 to a different community when the town reduced his requested budget by $10,000 — a statement Selectman Chair Dave Nickerson took issue with.
Nickerson told him the Fire Department budget was about fire safety in the whole community. He also said Sanbornton was one community and he was sick of hearing about one side of town verses a different side of town.
Selectman Karen Ober wanted it known that Sanbornton's decision not to participate in purchasing a new fire boat with Belmont for Lake Winnisquam and it's decision not to follow one of the options for the Winnisquam Station presented to them by Dexter was about economics, not desire.
"We just (can't) afford to do that at this time," she said.
Nickerson said he has spoken with Belmont Selectboard Chair Jon Pike about the Winnisquam Station.
Pike confirmed last night that he had spoken with Nickerson and said he would speak to his board about the conversation.
At a recent Belmont meeting, Pike and fellow Selectman Ron Cormier expressed a desire to never hear the words Winnisquam Fire Station spoken again.
The building, near the Mosquito Bridge, has not been used as a fire station since the independent fire company that built and used it disbanded in 2007.