CHATHAM– Dirt movers and crews are on the site, as work gets underway on the new Tri-Village Firehouse on county Route 13.
Though construction has begun, the official ground breaking ceremony is scheduled for Saturday June 5 at 11 a.m. The public is invited and the company expects visits from local and state officials.
“At this point our bulldozers are running, and we intend to complete the building,” said Stanley Koloski, secretary of the Tri-Village Fire Company and long-time supporter of the project.
The single story firehouse on a parcel of land formerly owned by the Old Chatham Tennis Club will have six truck bays and a full basement. It will feature amenities like a meeting hall, kitchen and an officers’ room. The new building will also have a handicap accessible bathroom, something that the Tri-Village Fire Company has never had before.
“We are very excited. It will give us an opportunity to give the Tri-Village Fire District the firehouse they deserve,” said David Ross, president of the fire company.
The bays will be larger than those in the current Tri-Village firehouses. Tri-Village Fire Chief Edward Knott says the newer bays will allow the company to purchase larger, more modern, trucks. Eventually Chief Knott says, the company will consolidate, and use six larger pieces of apparatus instead of its current nine.
“It gives us an opportunity for a more organized, effective response,” said Chief Knott.
The new firehouse will accommodate firefighters who may need to stay overnight, something that will be needed more if paid firefighters are ever used. The chief says the prospect of paying firefighters instead of using volunteers exclusively is a reality that many volunteer fire companies are already facing.
“In designing this station we are building it for the future,” he said.
In addition to serving as a firehouse, the station is being designed to serve as a command center in the case of a natural disaster. Extra phone jacks are being put in and State Police, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and other agencies will be welcome to use the station as needed. The firehouse is also being considered for use as a Red Cross center.
“We are trying to think about just everything so this firehouse will serve the community for decades to come,” said Mr. Ross.
Funding for the station is coming from private donations and through a loan from the Bank of Greene County. The loan is the responsibility of the Tri-Village Fire Company.
Mr. Ross hopes to see more donations come in to help with things like kitchen appliances and continuing education equipment that will be needed after the firehouse is built.
It has been 10 years since Tri-Village members first started planning for a new firehouse. Jack Lanphear, the Building Committee chairman and a second generation member of the company, thanked the public for their support of the project.
“It’s been 60 years since we have had a new building…. Overall we are just excited about having a nice building to work out of,” said Mr. Lanphear.
The plan to build the firehouse at the new site was at one time challenged by lobbyist and former New York State GOP chairman William Powers. Mr. Powers, who lives in the area, along with the group called the Coalition of Concerned Citizens of Chatham, argued that the firehouse would be environmentally damaging. He took the Town of Chatham to State Supreme Court over the issue, but the court ruled in favor of the town.
Mr. Powers could not be reached for comment.
The firehouse is estimated to be finished by mid-November. Once it is done, Tri-Village’s Chatham Center Fire House and the Old Chatham Fire House will be closed and put up for sale. Tri-Village’s Malden Bridge station will remain open.