Fire Chief Peter Henrikson told the Fire District Commissioners at their meeting Thursday night a state historian and archeologist said land at the southwest corner of Post Road and Cedar Avenue may be a Native American burial ground.
Henrikson said that discussion took up about three-fourths of a meeting held with the state Department of Transportation. He and Commissioner Steve Bartlett met with the DOT at the end of March to discuss whether the state-owned land could be acquired and if the EG Fire District could be a single-source bidder.
Henrikson had proposed a long-range plan to relocate the independent fire district's 100-year-old Main Street station, which he said is no longer the best location as the department’s work has transitioned to a point where three quarters of the calls are time-sensitive ambulance runs.
Because the limited amount of land available in East Greenwich is costly, the department inquired about the Post Road and Cedar Avenue property and learned the state was planning to put it up for sale. While no firm price has been set, the cost is anticipated to be around $360,000.
Even if the state and the Fire Department can agree on a price, Henrikson said before a sale is finalized there would have to be a number of studies, including whether the property is actually suitable for use as a fire station.
Those studies would include an evaluation as to whether the land is a Native American ancestral site. If evidence is found, that has potential to eliminate it from consideration.
Henrikson says the department will wait to see what develops and that as of now there is no alternative plan.
Several other unusual items popped up during the April 26 meeting, including a report the Kent County Water Authority had billed the department $49,000 to repair a water main that ruptured while the 1,000-gallon tank on the engine stationed at Frenchtown Road was being re-filled.
The department’s insurance company paid the claim, but the incident has initiated a review of Water Authority policies and department procedures regarding hydrant use.
And Commission Chairman Doug Axelsen told the other commissioners and the chief the state has an issue about who is responsible for potential workers’ compensation claims that might develop with volunteers on state projects. Axelsen said that a local firefighter or any other individual who volunteered to help with a state activity and was injured might find there is no coverage.
Henrikson said that issue had come up previously when firefighters certified as state instructors learned they would not be covered by the state if injured during a training presentation.