The city’s oldest firehouse, demolished 18 months ago, is to be re-created this winter as Tim Trier makes good on a promise of long ago.
Trier, who owns Clinton’s Ditch just off Erie Boulevard, said that he would build a perfect replica of the firehouse next to his bar if historic preservationists didn’t fight him over the demolition of the real thing. But shortly after he got permission to knock the old building down, he put his bar up for sale and turned the cleared firehouse space into a parking lot.
Preservationists began to whisper that they’d made a mistake. They should have gotten his promise in writing, they said. They gloomily predicted that he’d never rebuild the firehouse.
Even after learning Thursday that Trier had filed plans with the city to begin work on the building, they said they should have found some way to save the original. No matter how hard Trier tries, the replica won’t be perfect, Schenectady Heritage Foundation Chairwoman Gloria Kishton said.
But City Councilwoman Barbara Blanchard acknowledged that there was no other choice.
“It points to the need for effective code enforcement,” she said. “If we had had effective code enforcement, it wouldn’t have deteriorated to the point where he had to take it down. I think it’s great that he’s reconstructing the firehouse.”
Trier first looked into renovating the interior but found the building was structurally unsound. Then he hired a company to remove the facade so he could put it on his replica, but the brick just crumbled away, revealing decades of rot and termite damage.
Despite that setback, and an 18-month delay during which the bar was up for sale, Trier said there was never any doubt in his mind that he’d keep his word.
“I said I’d do it,” he said.
The firehouse will serve as an addition to his bar, allowing him to quintuple the size of his kitchen and add more tables to the dining area.
“We need the room,” he said. “In the summertime we’re OK, we have the patio. In the winter, we need the room.”
Assuming the city Planning Commission approves the project — it’s up for consideration at a meeting at 6:30 p.m. next Wednesday at City Hall — he will start work in October.
“We don’t want to interrupt the business with the patio,” he said.
Construction will take seven to 12 months. But by the time the patio opens again next spring, all the outside work will be done.
The project will cost $400,000 to $600,000, Trier said.
As for his effort to sell the bar, he’s no longer eager to part with it.
“It is my baby,” he said, adding, “It will always be for sale — it’s my baby but if you get a good price, you sell, right?”
He’ll lose about nine parking spaces when he builds the addition. That will hurt — the bar has too few spaces as it is, and a turf war with Burger King has led Trier to post notices on every wall of the bar warning customers not to park at the fast food joint. Burger King’s parking lot is adjacent to Clinton’s Ditch and is rarely even half full, but when bar customers park there, Burger King has them towed.
Customers can park at the public lot across the street and walk half a block to the crosswalk — but they’ll pass two other bars on their way to Clinton’s Ditch if they take that route.
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Categories: Schenectady County