ANCRAM—Over the past four years the Ancram Fire District has been researching and planning and now proposes to build a 7,200 square foot addition to the existing fire station at 1306 County Route 7.
The project cost is about $895,000. A resolution authorizing the issuance of bonds in that amount for the construction/expansion project comes before voters in a special election December 18, 6 to 9 p.m. at the fire station.
Fire Chief David Boice gave a rundown of the proposal at the November 15 Town Board meeting, starting with a little history.
The Ancram Fire Company was formed in 1939. The first fire truck, purchased in 1943, was kept at the Ancram paper mill. The existing fire station was built in 1969. An addition, which doubled the station’s size, was built 20 years later.
In 2008, the fire district purchased the neighboring building and property to the east of the fire station from the late Dorothy Houle. The building was the Ancram Tavern, and it became the Firehouse Deli after the sale. The purchase was made with an eye toward a future expansion and a committee assigned to explore that idea was formed the same year.
Architects were interviewed the following year, and according to Chief Boice, the fire district was advised that a “shovel-ready” fire station expansion project fit a lot of the criteria necessary to qualify for a federal Homeland Security grant.
A design and master plan were devised with a resulting project cost of $3.2 million for the same square footage now proposed, but the fire district did not get the grant and headed back to the drawing board.
Working with Architect Joe Iuviene of the Architectural Bureau in Chatham, who also designed the town’s highway garage addition, the fire district came up with the current project, estimated to cost $895,468 in part by eliminating $210,000 worth of options and enlisting the town Highway Department for the excavation work at a $100,000 savings, said the chief.
The new 62 x 58-foot addition will provide 5 new truck bays on 2 levels: 2 at the basement level accessed from the rear of the building and 3 on the main level accessed from the front.
The current building has just two bays and an estimated 3,200 square feet of space. A fire company pickup truck and equipment trailer are currently parked outside the firehouse and other gear is stored in the former deli building for lack of space, the chief said in a follow-up phone call after the meeting.
While fire company personnel have served thousands of meals from the firehouse kitchen to residents during extended power outages, the new facility will have bathrooms with showers and more room should an emergency shelter be needed. An existing generator can power the whole place, he said. The additional space will also allow for firefighter training opportunities which are currently not available.
If the proposal is approved, the Firehouse Deli will be demolished and ground broken on the expansion project in March 2013, weather permitting, with a completion date in December next year.
With a 19% increase in the amount to be raised by taxes in the 2013 fire district budget, Mr. Boice said he expected taxpayers to see an increase of about $2/month on a house assessed at $300,000. And as a result of the addition, he expected the same increase the following year.
The fire district plans to pay off the cost of the addition over 10 to 25 years. The quicker payoff would save finance costs, but those costs are currently quite low, said the chief.
If the referendum is defeated, the chief said, the district would not go ahead with the project.
“The firehouse addition committee worked to keep costs down on the project,” said Chief Boice. When the original firehouse was built firefighters paid for it with money raised through bingo games, when the addition was put on in 1989, firefighters did all the interior work. Firefighters will install all the floor coverings in the new addition. “Firefighters are taxpayers too and are not eager to see taxes go up,” he said.
In other business the board:
*Heard from Doug Weaver of Superior Sanitation, who proposed constructing a leach field under the town’s Blass Memorial Field to serve the Simons General Store. Apparently someone is interested in purchasing the long-vacant historic store renovated and owned by the Ancram Preservation Group if a leach field arrangement can be agreed upon with the town. The building at the intersection of Route 82 and County Route 7 does not have enough property to support a septic system, which has to 100 feet from a well, Mr. Weaver said. Supervisor Art Bassin said in order for town land to be used as a leach field the town has to pass a resolution allowing it and the resolution would have to be forwarded to the State Legislature which would also have to pass it. Mr. Weaver said pipes would have to pass under County Route 7 from the store to the ballfield and the whole system would have to meet County Health Department standards. Supervisor Bassin said the board will have to consider the matter and before it can go forward will have to conduct a public hearing.
*Heard from Supervisor Bassin with regard to improving the sight lines at the Route 82/County Route 7 intersection that the county has figured out a way to stabilize the concrete wall perpendicular to Route 82 from further deterioration by reinforcing it with a wire basket full of rocks. Once that is done, the county plans to proceed with the project, which, weather permitting, could be done by the end of the year.
The next Town Board meeting is December 20 at 7 p.m.
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