[Editor's note: This story was updated to edit inaccurate information on the date of purchase of 427 Riverside Avenue.]
Riverside Park: the site of neighborhood Easter egg hunts, the path of public access to the Saugatuck River, and future neighbor to a new Saugatuck Fire Station?
That's the question that will be discussed at the RTM's Long Range Planning Committee meeting Wednesday -- and the answer is no, if the residents who live near Riverside Park have their say.
The idea to explore building a new Saugatuck Fire Station at 427 Riverside Avenue -- the town-owned parcel of land adjacent to Riverside Park -- was brought up in June. The town had purchased the lot in the 1995.
The new plan includes a 10,000 sq. ft. building to replace the current station, which suffered approximately $15,000 in damage during Superstorm Sandy, Westport News reports. The current station -- located between Bridge Square and The Whelk -- is in the Saugatuck River's flood zone.
Neighbors and frequenters of Riverside Park have banded together to form the group "Preserve Saugatuck", the goal of which is three-fold: merge 427 Riverside Avenue with Riverside Park, and then expand and develop the park, and propose another site for the firehouse.
"There's not that much public access and usable green waterfront space in Westport, and Riverside Park and its surrounding area have a lot of potential," Jacob Axel, a member of "Preserve Saugatuck" who lives across the street from the park, said.
"It's our hidden treasure," Axel said of the park, a place of both recreation and relaxation for many area residents.
The group would work on fundraising to develop the space as a playground for kids, install canoe and kayak racks for the public's use, and provide for other activities should the two spaces merge and Riverside Park be up for expansion.
Axel and other members of "Preserve Saugatuck" are also concerned the possibility of flooding at 427 Riverside Avenue -- making the possibility of moving the Saugatuck Fire Station from its current flood-prone site to the lot adjacent to the park "nonsensical.
"Why put it in an area that floods?" Axel said. "Why put a fire station in a place of risk?"
The group wants to see a feasibility study on options for the firehouse before a site is chosen, Axel said.
Members of the public can learn more -- or voice their thoughts -- about the location of the Saugatuck Fire Station at Wednesday's RTM Long Range Planning Committee, which meets at 7:30 p.m. in Room 201 in Town Hall.
Those interested in the mission of "Preserve Saugatuck" can sign the group's petition, which will be passed on to the First Selectman as planning for the replacement firehouse progresses. The petition currently has over 200 signatures.