Ripple effects of a new firehouse Westminster parking, disabled riding program benefit from move.

March 19, 1997

WHEN THE WESTMINSTER Volunteer Fire Department finally breaks ground for its new home on Winters Alley this spring, it will be a result of several fortuitous maneuvers that have turned out well for the public interest.

The latest change is a planned swap of land with the city of Westminster that will provide access to John Street for the fire department's large engines and ladder truck. The narrow passage along the alley was a major problem in designing a new firehouse at the new location.

The city proposes trading 13,000 square-feet of the municipal parking lot to the fire company for a similar piece of its property. The result is safer, better access to John Street for the firehouse and 19 more parking spaces for the county seat. The deal has yet to be formally approved but both sides are in agreement.

Another benefit of the fire company's move from its century-old headquarters on East Main Street is the economical acquisition by the 4-H Therapeutic Riding Program of a large indoor building for teaching disabled riders.

The volunteer program will be able to extend its season and expand equestrian classes and therapy for the mentally and physically disabled with the 10,000-square-foot vacant lumber warehouse it removed from the fire company's new site. Classes have previously been held outdoors at the county Agriculture Center, limited by weather and available grounds. The metal building transplanted to the Ag Center will open for classes next month.

There is more good news in the generous response of Carroll County residents to both these important volunteer efforts.

The 4-H riding program raised $90,000 since last summer to acquire, dismantle, relocate and reassemble the old warehouse, plus contributions of labor and materials. The Westminster fire company recently reached its $1.5 million goal to pay for the new seven-bay firehouse. (Financing the 3.5-acre land purchase is contingent on sale of the old Main Street landmark to a local real estate developer.)

None of this would have happened had the fire company concluded its original plan to buy a site on Railroad Avenue, but that deal fell through. The new firehouse site has quietly produced ripple-effect benefits for the community, without sounding any alarms.

Pub Date: 3/19/97

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