LEICESTER, Mass. — Leicester school and town officials welcomed U.S. Rep. James McGovern to the 2nd Congressional District Wednesday at a meet and greet at the Leicester Town Hall, where they discussed vital town issues that included the longstanding need for a larger fire station.
"I'm thrilled to be here and I look forward to working with all of you and trying to help anyway that I can," McGovern said to Leicester officials.
McGovern was elected in 1996 to represent the Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Under the newly redistricted map, McGovern was moved into the 2nd Congressional District, bringing with him the towns of Auburn, Holden, Shrewsbury, Northborough and Westborough. Leicester, Millbury, Grafton and Northbridge remained in the 2nd District.
Prior to the change, Leicester had been served by U.S. Rep. Richard Neal.
Yet Selectman Doug Belanger explained that McGovern was "not new to doing things for Leicester," and said that "we know you know Leicester, you didn't need a special map to find us, and you've responded many times when I and other selectmen and other elected officials here have reached out before under the protocol of Congressman Neal."
Since the town's fire department continues to run into challenges with the size of its three stations, Leicester Fire Chief Robert Wilson took McGovern on a tour of Fire Headquarters, which was built in the early 1900's.
"Stations 2 and 3 were built in 1959, and so those are already over 50 years old," said Wilson.
Wilson hoped McGovern could help the town of Leicester secure enough funds to build a new Fire and EMS headquarters.
The most critical issue is space to meet the needs of its more than 50 members, he says, as the department needs training space, administrative space, as well as space for apparatus.
"One of the problems is that we're buying apparatus to fit the station," said Wilson. "Our aerial truck is from 1975, and we can't replace it with a newer truck because it won't fit. That's the largest vehicle we can put in that bay. We can't replace it until we get a new facility.
The station also has very limited parking, with only four feet on either side of the building.
"Also in order to get the trucks back in the station, we have to pull in the neighbor's driveway, and we should have to be using anybody else's property other than our own," he said.