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In Ancram, looking good matters


Private citizens step forward to fund stylish firehouse

ANCRAM—The Ancram fire station at 1306 County Route 7 in the center of the hamlet will soon be enlarged by 7,200 square feet. Since the new addition will be a prominent fixture in the hamlet for generations to come, some people in town want to make sure it looks good.

On December 18, Ancram Fire District voters overwhelmingly approved an $895,000 bond to finance the firehouse expansion: 106 in favor, 18 opposed.

At the January 17 Town Board meeting, Fire Chief David Boice announced that the electric company has relocated the power lines to an alternate pole and the demolition of the building that used to be the Firehouse Deli will begin sometime in the next 10 days.

Chief Boice also said that a group of private citizens had expressed concerns about the exterior colors and type of doors to be used on the new structure. The group is interested in seeing to it that the building “looks nice” and has a “traditional” appearance in keeping with a hamlet “centerpiece.”

Jennifer Berne and Nick Nickerson, who are part of the unnamed citizens group, were at the meeting. Ms. Berne explained that Ancram has a proud tradition of having a local and active firehouse. She said glass doors would allow passersby to look inside and see the “magnificent equipment that saves our lives and homes.”  In addition to gaining an appreciation for what’s inside the firehouse, Ms. Berne said people will get a feeling from the building’s architecture that the town has pride in its firehouse and it will look architecturally impressive.

Fire Chief Boice noted that early in the project planning stages, the fire district had considered and subsequently rejected numerous upgrades because they would have made the project cost “too expensive to get passed.”

One such wish-list item was a water tank system that would run off an existing well on the firehouse property. Following a fire, the system would allow firefighters to refill the firetrucks—5,500 gallons worth—at their home base. Currently they have to take the trucks down to the paper mill, tap into a dry hydrant and stand outside waiting for the trucks to fill up. The process can be quite taxing on tired firefighters when outdoor temperatures reach high or low extremes.

The cost of the water system was estimated at $11,000 and the cost of the glass doors was an estimated $22,000, making the total additional cost somewhere in the $40,000 to $50,000 range.

Ms. Berne said the citizen’s group wants to put the two projects together and raise the money to pay for them both.

Councilman Hugh Clark asked the chief if going with the glass doors would cause the fire company to incur additional maintenance or other costs it would not otherwise incur. Mr. Boice said he has spoken to door manufacturers who told him there are pluses and minuses to both. Metal doors allow less light in and are more energy efficient, while glass doors (with half-inch panes) let in more light and are not quite as energy efficient, making utility costs “a wash.” While he suspects glass doors may require somewhat more in cleaning costs, he wants to talk to fire chiefs who have had glass doors for multiple years.

Town Justice Bob Wilcox praised the idea of citizens raising the money to get things done, “It’s a wonderful thing.”

Mr. Nickerson said a nice-looking building will encourage other hamlet building owners to spruce up their properties as well.

Ancram resident Sue Bassin asked Chief Boice if he was enthusiastic about the idea.

“It looks exceptional,” said the chief, noting that an improved facility will contribute to fire company pride and camaraderie and may even help the company enlist new members.

The Fire District’s Board of Fire Commissioners will meet February 12 to discuss and decide whether to give the citizens the go-ahead to raise the money, Ms. Berne told The Columbia Paper Wednesday.

To contact Diane Valden email



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