Bullville OKs firehouse bond
The Board of Fire Commissioners for the Bullville Fire District voted last week to bond up to $8.4 million for a new firehouse.
The vote is the first step in moving forward with plans to build a new firehouse on property purchased six years ago by the fire district. This property is also located on Route 17K, but closer to the border with the town of Montgomery.
The fire company has been struggling for some time with a number of problems, most notably contaminated water and cramped quarters. An expansion of the existing facility has been ruled out by the district due to the contaminated water supply.
About five years ago, the fire district learned that their groundwater was contaminated by a nearby gas station. Water filters were put in, but the contamination broke through the filters. The fire company recently purchased and installed a 1,000-gallon water tank and piping to provide some water, but they are still unable to cook or shower.
Rather than dragging home contamination from an incident, the fire district would rather have showers for the firefighters to clean up. In addition, Fire Commissioner George DelVecchio has expressed concern about the water tank, noting that the water will be sitting in the plastic container out in the sun and he is worried about bacteria.
Fire Commissioner Fred Theodore explained that due to the water issue, the firehouse no longer hosts community events, whereas in the past they held pancake breakfasts and the Ladies Auxiliary and other groups also held events.
He noted that if a senior citizen wants to attend a local group, the closest is now the town of Wallkill or Pine Bush.
“Here in Bullville there’s nothing,” said Theodore. “We’re the heart and soul of the people.”
The plan is to build a solid building instead of a pole structure, enabling the district to go out for a 30-year bond and release some of the pressure on the taxes for the district. The design is meant to serve the district for the next 75 years or more by planning ahead for growth.
DelVecchio said the plan calls for five bays as they were advised that if they went with a design for four, it would cost the district another $1.4 million in the future to expand for an additional bay.
“Who knows what the future of Bullville is going to be?” asked Theodore.
Theodore pointed out that there is prime commercial property located to the east of the existing firehouse and when that starts being developed they need to be ready.
The new firehouse would have a kitchen, showers, meeting rooms and a central area that could serve as emergency shelter during natural disasters. It would also have storage areas and office space, a step up from the all-in-one small office at the existing firehouse that serves as the chief’s office, camera room, mail room and storage room.
DelVecchio said on Monday that their rough estimate right now is that residents in the district will see an increase of $20 to $50 per month in their fire taxes if the new firehouse is approved. That means a homeowner could see an increase as high as $600 for the year. The exact increase will depend on the assessed value of the taxpayer’s home, the total number of residents in the district and the final cost of the project.
DelVecchio explained that the original estimate came in around $5 million and each year the cost only grows. The figure they received from their architect for the vote last week was an estimate of $8.6 million. The fire district plans to put down $200,000, leaving $8.4 million to bond. He noted that the fire district is concerned that further delays will only see the numbers continue to grow.
DelVecchio said the plan now is to first gain the approval of residents in the district before taking the plans to the Planning Board for their approval. The vote will be held 6-9 p.m. on June 17 at the existing firehouse at 2891 Route 17K. To vote, an individual must be a registered voter living within the district.
Before that vote, the fire district will also hold two public forums on the proposal. The first is set for May 28 from 7 to 9 p.m., with an open house followed by a question and answer session with the architect.
The fire district plans to hold another forum on June 5, also 7-9 p.m.
For more information on the new firehouse as well as the ongoing issues at the existing firehouse, visit their Facebook page.
By RACHEL COLEMAN