By Seth Daniel
The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) has approved the lease of land for the Charlestown ambulance station near Sullivan Square for another year, but beyond that the City and Boston EMS will likely be looking for a new home – and it might not be in Charlestown.
The BPDA approved the lease at its Board meeting last Thursday, Nov. 16, in what was a pretty mundane agenda item in most circumstances. The ambulance has been stationed at its Main Street haunts since 1982, having been moved from City Square location to accommodate the Central Artery/Tunnel project.
That lease renewal was no big deal, but looking into the fine print of the request revealed that the BPDA was renewing for one year “with the goal of providing Boston EMS sufficient time to design a facility plan adequate to both their needs and provide coverage to the Charlestown community, as well as securing the necessary capital funding from the City of Boston.”
That unearthed an old, and very major, issue for the Town – the threat of moving the ambulance out of the neighborhood, which has been a recurring issue in the past.
Sources told the Patriot-Bridge that the current facility is old and outdated and needs to be replaced. Those people said they would fight to keep the facility in Charlestown because traffic and congestion can be an issue in response times for medical emergencies in the Town. That said, much of the decision would rest on what kind of appropriate land is available.
“EMS has no plans to vacate the current Charlestown location, but due to the condition of the property, (Boston EMS) are in discussions with the BPDA and other City agencies about potential properties for future use,” read a statement on the issue from the BPDA late last week.
More information on the plan is expected sometime in the near future.
State Rep. Dan Ryan said the threat of moving Charlestown’s ambulance has been an ongoing one for many years. He said he has recently filed state legislation on behalf of the City of Boston regarding a public safety facility in the “Charles River Basin,” which could mean Charlestown and likely would mean a combined Fire and Ambulance station.
He also said he had no specific information, but would guess no action would be taken on moving the ambulance until after major construction is done.
“I can’t see them even talking about moving the ambulance out of Charlestown until after all of our construction is completed – all of the major roadwork,” he said. “Even then, I think it would be a good idea to have the service located here.”
Councilor-elect Lydia Edwards said moving the ambulance to a facility outside of the Town would be unsafe and unfair to Charlestown.
“This would be unsafe, unfair and simply wrong,” she said. “Charlestown needs more, not less, EMS services. I am cautiously optimistic that we will be able to work things out so that the vendor gets the space it needs and Charlestown gets the services we need. But removing is EMS services from Charlestown is unacceptable.”
More information is expected within the next year about the plan to find a new home for the Charlestown ambulance station.