A vi­sion for a se­cure fu­ture

For­mer Salmon River school prop­erty pro­posed as ideal site for new fire hall


It’s only a va­cant piece of prop­erty with di­lap­i­dated play­ground equip­ment now, but when Tim John­son thinks about the for­mer Salmon River Ele­men­tary school grounds he en­vi­sions much more.

“When you look at the big pic­ture I could see ground search and res­cue, spe­cial haz­ards, a train­ing fa­cil­ity along with a fire­hall,” said the deputy chief of the Salmon River Fire Brigade. “That’s what I see it as, a multi-pur­pose or multi-use piece of prop­erty.”

The brigade cur­rently op­er­ates out of a build­ing that John­son es­ti­mates to be at least 100 years old. At some point in the not too dis­tant fu­ture he feels the struc­ture will have out­lived its rea­son­able use­ful­ness.

“It’s hard to heat, it’s an old struc­ture, it’s hard to main­tain,” he said. “It doesn’t re­ally fit what we do to­day as a fire­fight­ing com­mu­nity.”

An­other con­cern is that the ex­ist­ing fa­cil­ity is on the wrong side of the rail­road tracks from the area’s cur­rent and fu­ture res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment.

The for­mer Salmon River school site, mean­while, is a va­cant prop­erty of slightly more than 16 acres of land that John­son feels would be ideal for con­struc­tion of a new fire hall and a host of re­lated com­po­nents.

“If we were to ac­quire this prop­erty,” he wrote in a re­cent let­ter to the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Colch­ester, which owns the school prop­erty, “this would al­low us to move for­ward in the fu­ture with a plan to build a new fire sta­tion and pos­si­bly a modern train­ing fa­cil­ity, not only for our grow­ing dis­trict but for all vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers, within the County of Colch­ester and pos­si­bly be­yond.”

At­tract­ing new vol­un­teers is dif­fi­cult enough, John­son said. Add in the fact they have to op­er­ate out of an out­dated fa­cil­ity that can’t of­fer ad­e­quate train­ing ameni­ties, and the task is that much greater.

“It’s on the right side of the tracks it’s closer to the main core of the area, it just makes sense,” he said.

Colch­ester Mayor Chris­tine Blair said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity sup­ports the brigade’s re­quest in prin­ci­ple for at least a por­tion of the prop­erty, but more in­for­ma­tion is re­quired be­fore a de­ci­sion can be made.

“We haven’t de­cided yet how much that would be be­cause it needs to have an anal­y­sis,” she said. “We need to know what their busi­ness plan is go­ing to be, what their time frame is go­ing to be and then we will de­ter­mine. We may need part of that land our­selves.”

From John­son’s per­spec­tive, how­ever, turn­ing over the en­tire prop­erty to the brigade to de­velop as both a fire­hall and for re­lated uses, just makes sense for the greater good of the com­mu­nity at large.

“If no­body goes ahead and has a vi­sion, we are go­ing to be in the same place 25 years from now and rac­ing to get to fires that we’re on the wrong side of the tracks from,” he said.


Salmon River Fire Brigade hopes to con­vince the county to do­nate the for­mer Salmon River Ele­men­tary school prop­erty for con­struc­tion of a new hall and pos­si­bly re­lated train­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

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