City Ready to Put out RFP for Permanent Ambulance Station

The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) will likely take the first step to creating a permanent, two-bay ambulance substation in Charlestown when it puts out an RFP in April or May.

The BPDA’s Reay Pannesi and a crew of BPDA officials came to Charlestown Tuesday night for a meeting at the Schrafft’s Center to discuss whether the community wanted such an amenity on the sliver of land at the corner of Main Street/Bunker Hill Street and the Mishawum Extension. The idea would to create a public/private partnership to upgrade the ambulance substation on the property.

A ramshackle ambulance station with one unit has been located there for about 20 years, originally coming as mitigation for the Central Artery Tunnel project.

“There definitely is a need for two ambulances,” said Bob Beckwith, of the 520 Club and the Bunker Hill Associates. “If you have on ambulance go to Cambridge Street on the Somerville line, Charlestown will be stuck. You need two ambulances.”

That sentiment was echoed by many more in the audience, and it’s been a community bone of contention for many years to preserve one 24-hour ambulance, let alone two.

Boston EMS Chief Jim Hooley said they want to preserve what they have and would really like to have the permanent station on the same site with two bays.

“Right now this is not the only solution,” he said, “but it probably is. It’s the best solution we’ve seen in the 15 years we’ve been looking for this. The thing we don’t want to see is Charlestown not to have a 24/7 presence. I would like to expand to two ambulances.”

Said Devin Quirk of the BPDA, “We do expect to write into the RFP that it would be a structure to accommodate two ambulances.”

The BPDA owns the small sliver of land, and the elephant in the room was a potential development surrounding the ambulance station on the Duffy family’s land – land that once housed their warehouse building. Now, an East Boston developer has floated plans to build on that property, and to include the ambulance bays in his development plan.

That was not discussed on Tuesday, but most are familiar with the plan – which has not been officially submitted to the City yet. That said, it is expected that the Eastie developer would respond to the RFP, and if it is secured, would move ahead on his development. The Duffy family still owns the property abutting the sliver at the moment, though, and were in attendance Tuesday night.

Also in attendance were many members of the abutting 520 Club, who said it should be kept in mind that any developer of the ambulance bays or the adjacent property should be ready to work with them. During the demolition of the Duffy building, the Club did experiences some difficulties as a result of the work there.

“The 520 Club is right next door and anyone developing that needs to make sure to deal with us too,” said one member.

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