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Published: Wednesday, 3/16/2005

Bedford may pay $500 for rights to property

TEMPERANCE - Bedford Township board members last night asked the fire chief to amend a proposed agreement with a local woman in hopes of the township one day buying her home to expand the adjacent Temperance fire station.

The months-old proposed agreement between the township and Margaret Charlesworth doesn't set a price for her 800-square-foot home or the half-acre lot it sits on at 1114 West Temperance Rd.

Instead, the township would pay Mrs. Charlesworth $500 now for a "right of first refusal" to purchase the property when she is prepared to sell.

Bedford Township Fire Chief John Bofia said the property is necessary if township officials hope one day to renovate and expand the decades-old station in Temperance.

"It doesn't answer all of our problems, but it is the start of a remodeling area there," the chief said. "The immediate needs we have there are for a larger parking area and an area to reverse the [apparatus]. Fire vehicles are getting larger, and we don't want to have [volunteer firefighters'] vehicles facing outgoing apparatus when they're responding to a call."

Board members appeared ready to approve the proposed agreement but sent it back instead to seek a change in one small section at the request of township legal counsel Tom Graham.

Monroe architect John Kohler has been working on a report for several months to outline the long-term needs at both the Temperance and Lambertville fire stations as well as for a planned third station that is to be built along Lewis Avenue closer to the state line.

Any hopes of expansion at the two existing fire stations have been hampered by the fact that they were built on small lots.

The township this year agreed to purchase a home adjacent to the Lambertville station in order to one day expand that facility. The township is pursuing a location for the new third station.

However, Trustee Dennis Steinman, who also serves on the township's fire commission, said he is concerned that the land acquisitions could present a cash-flow crunch to the township's fire fund. Mr. Steinman said he hopes to have a report ready for the township board with figures on a proposed spending plan put together within a week or two.

The proposed agreement with Mrs. Charlesworth is likely to return to the township board at its next meeting on April 5.

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