The debate about where to build a replacement for the outdated, undersized and flood-prone Aldie fire house has stretched more than a decade. As county leaders move closer to construction, it’s clear the debate is not over.
On Thursday night, village residents, preservation advocates and historians packed in to the Aldie United Methodist Church to learn more about the concerns stemming from plans to raze three buildings to make way for the new project.
There is one item on which county leaders, village residents and fire department members agree—the steeply sloped land on the south side of Rt. 50 is not the ideal location for an 18,000-square-foot public safety center. But after 10 years of evaluating alternative sites—and even buying one property east of the village before neighbor opposition and a lawsuit derailed it—fire department leaders and the county staff say there’s no better option available. Residents want them to take another look.
Last night’s community meeting was co-hosted by the Mosby Heritage Area Association, the Civil War Trust, the Aldie Heritage Association and the Lovettsville Historical Society.
Much of the meeting focused on the history of the village, both as an important industrial community in Loudoun’s early years and the significant battle that played out across the landscape in the summer of 1863 as Confederate forces successfully shielded from Federal discovery the march of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s army northward to Pennsylvania at the start of the Gettysburg campaign. Opponents said building a large modern fire station in the village would scar that landscape, which is little changed during the 150 years since.
Attendees also heard about the historic value of three buildings—known as the Tavern House, the Dry Goods Store and the Smokehouse—that are slated to be torn down for the project. County leaders are looking alternatives that may spare the tavern house and some have suggested moving the buildings to be preserved elsewhere. However, project critics said those alternatives would still destroy the historic setting of the village.
The meeting was attended by County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) and Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge)’s staff aides Shevaun Hochstetler and Rachael Holmes.
Hochstetler told the crowd that Buffington would welcome any suggestions for other possible location for the station and asked that they be presented before Feb. 23.
The $14.8 million fire house project is under design, but the plan is expected to be complete next winter.
More than 4,50o signatures have been collected on a petition opposing the project.