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Daily Gazette: Featured New Station Project

 

A bond vote on Tuesday will determine whether the Halfmoon-Waterford Fire District will build a new fire station.

 

The fire district will host a bond vote from 6 to 9 p.m. It is seeking public approval to construct a 25,000-square-foot firehouse to replace a station at 315 Middletown Road in Halfmoon, which was built in 1961. The vote will be held at the Middletown Road station.

 

If approved, the fire district will bond for $12,331,563 to finance the project.

 

The firehouse itself will cost $9.3 million to build. Site preparation work, including draining and leveling, will cost $2.5 million, and $1,575,000 will pay for artist renderings and architectural planning work for the project.

 

Plans for a new building have been in the works for about seven years, said fire district Commissioner John D’Alessandro.

 

If passed, the project would carry a tax increase of $126 annually for residents of the fire district who live in Halfmoon, and $72 annually for Waterford residents who live in the district.

 

“We think it’s a reasonable increase to invest in the public’s safety," D'Alessandro said. "We’re trying to prepare for the future."

 

That time was spent consulting with architects and construction companies to nail down a plan for a new building. When the current firehouse was built, Middletown Road was a farming road, and fire engines were able to enter and exit with ease.

 

Now, D’Alessandro said, Middletown Road is a major highway, and the proximity of the station to the street and pedestrian traffic poses a risk every time a truck needs to leave.

 

“When it was built, it was good for us," D'Alessandro said. "It’s in a great location, response-wise. But the trucks are super close to the road."

 

The current firehouse has three bays for trucks on one side and two bays on the other, with a common room and living area between them. That layout forces firefighters to walk through living areas, often while wearing contaminated gear, when they return from emergency calls, D'Alessandro said. Modern fire stations usually have separate areas for the storage and cleaning of contaminated gear.

 

The current fire station also has structural deficiencies -- cracks in walls, asbestos and damage to wooden frames from termites, D'Alessandro said. The truck bays are also not large enough to provide room for both the trucks and firefighters moving around them.

 

There are no showers in the current fire station, which means the volunteer firefighters must travel home to shower, running the risk of bringing contaminants from their suits into their homes. The station is also not ADA compliant.

 

The proposed facility would include five drive-through apparatus bays, a turnout gear room, hot-zone decontamination stations, a community room, a training and meeting room, storage space and offices.

 

If the bond vote passes, the fire district will seek input from the Halfmoon and Waterford planning boards, though the district would not require approval from either to proceed.

 

D’Alessandro said he hopes to begin construction of the new station by the spring, if the project is approved.

 

According to D’Alessandro, the new firehouse would pay for itself in the long run by allowing firefighters to more efficiently respond to the growing number of calls that come in each year. The new station is projected to last at least 70 years.

 

In 2017, the station responded to 800 calls, and D’Alessandro predicted that number will only increase.

 

“We’ll probably break that this year. We’re trying to plan for that,” he said.

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