This week, Sugarbush Resort and the Warren Volunteer Fire Department were able to agree on conditions for the construction of Gadd Brook Residences, the next phase in the resort's base area development plan.
When the fire department first saw the design for the 16-unit, four-story building, they objected strenuously. There's no way they could effectively fight a fire in a building of that size, they said, highlighting the difficulties that arise when a rural, all-volunteer department is tasked with protecting a resort area that more closely resembles an urban environment.
At first, it seemed like the project would be a no-go, at least not without some sort of outside intervention, but instead Sugarbush, the fire department and the town entered into talks among themselves. By sitting down and going over the design for the building, the department was able to share their concerns from a fire safety standpoint and the resort listened and took notes.
Why was it Warren's responsibility to pay to update the fire department's equipment so that it would better serve Sugarbush, a private enterprise? Should the resort be required to pay for any of those updates?
Maybe, the town responded.
After a few weeks, the three parties reached a compromise. Sugarbush altered aspects of the design for Gadd Brook to increase access to the building in case of an emergency, such as adding a fire lane and an outside door to the mechanical control room and the resort agreed to pay to have a consultant come in and make recommendations for the fire department regarding future growth.
Given The Valley's tourist-driven economy, the Warren Town Plan identifies Sugarbush Resort as an area where it'd like to encourage dense development, but that can only happen if everyone is on the same page. Moving forward, Sugarbush plans to appoint a liaison to the Warren Volunteer Fire Department and the department plans to do the same.
In a post-Mountainside-Condo-fire world, we are all more aware of the liabilities of multi-level buildings and the importance of having people on call who are familiar with their layout in case of an emergency. These types of conversations are not over; by working together the resort, the fire department and the town have established solid lines of communication for the changes that could lie ahead.