GREENPORT—Voters in this town return the polls next week, Tuesday, November 17, for a referendum on funding for a new fire station. Polls will be open from 6 to 9 p.m. All town residents are eligible to vote in the referendum, and all voting takes place at the Greenport Community Center, 500 Town Hall Drive, off Healy Boulevard.
Voters are asked to approve a bond resolution of up to $2.7 million, to be paid off over 25 years, for construction of a new firehouse on the site of Becraft Pumper Company Number 2, at 257 County Route 14.
A letter sent to every voter in Greenport cited a “professional financial adviser who specializes in construction bonds” as estimating that the bond will result in a one-time tax increase of 37 cents to 42 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The exact amount will depend on the interest rate carried by the bond. A home valued at $150,000 would see a one-time tax increase between $56 and $62. A home valued at $250,00 would pay a one-time property tax increase between $93 and $104.
Becraft Station was built in 1932 and named for its neighborhood and a nearby mountain. After more than 83 years of “hard use,” the fire commissioners wrote to voters, Becraft is difficult to maintain and expensive to heat. Photos in PowerPoint presentations made to the public in October show water damage in the basement and truck bays, and cracking of exterior masonry in the truck bays.
Further, at 3,000 square feet of functional space, the station is no longer large enough to house the district’s trucks or to provide space for public meetings and election polling. It is not handicapped accessible and not suitable as an emergency shelter in times of extreme weather or power outages.
The fire commissioners—currently co-chairs Donald MacDonald and Edward Snow, Henry Feller and John Mausolf Sr.—looked into renovating the station, but the cost was still high and did not address the space for trucks and equipment.
The new Becraft station would provide 6,806 square feet, with 1,500 square feet of that dedicated to space for meetings, training, election polling and emergency weather shelter. It is a “no-frills station, without bells and whistles,” Mr. Snow wrote in response to questions from The Columbia Paper. It will have three bays for trucks and equipment, a community room and two offices. It will have showers and a kitchen, and will be handicapped accessible. There will not be any living quarters in the station.
“We feel it meets the bare minimum of what’s required to replace the Becraft station,” wrote Mr. Snow.
Becraft is the “most antiquated” of the town’s three fire stations, the commissioners wrote to the public, and it is the “linchpin.” It covers the largest response area within the Fire District, including Columbia-Greene Community College, Olana State Historic Site, longstanding farms and residences and growing residential communities on Mt. Merino Road, Frese Road, Dogwood Road and King Arthur’s Way.
The two other fire stations are Pumper Company No. 1 on Route 23B and Pumper Company No. 3 on Washington Boulevard. Residents served by those stations are eligible to vote in the November 17 referendum.
The Greenport Fire District is run by elected commissioners and is a governmental entity separate from the Town of Greenport, the commissioners explained in their letter to voters. The district has its own budget, separate from the town’s budget, and with voter approval, the district can borrow money when necessary.
About 100 residents attended the four information sessions hosted by the commissioners. “It’s impossible to say ahead of the vote how the proposal will go,” Mr. Snow wrote, “but it seems that many folks appreciate the need for a properly equipped volunteer fire department and see the importance of replacing the current Becraft station in order to serve and protect the town.”
For those with questions, the commissioners set up a special telephone line: 518 291-8166 and email address: email@example.com.