Voters on Tuesday resoundingly defeated a $3.5 million plan that would renovate the Pine Grove fire station.
The resolution to renovate and expand the aging firehouse on Dunnsville Road was shot down 201-68, according to Fire Commissioner Herb LeTarte III. He said turnout was high for the vote and he suspects the cost of the project stirred anti-tax sentiment among district residents.
“I think it was a general malaise against taxation altogether,” he said Wednesday. “That’s my guess — they’ve had it with taxes altogether.”
The 30-member volunteer fire department covering parts of Princetown, Rotterdam and Guilderland was hoping to renovate the existing station and add 4,200 square feet. The project would have represented the first substantial renovation of the station since 1984 and only the second since the building was constructed in the early 1970s.
The proposal included the construction of a new bay to house up to six vehicles. The existing fire station would get a new public entrance lobby along the east side, while the existing truck bays on the southwest corner would be dedicated to housing emergency rescue vehicles.
The cost was to be bonded over 25 years. Rotterdam residents in the Pine Grove Fire District would have seen an annual tax increase of about 77 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.
The failed vote comes less than a year after residents rejected, nearly 2-1, a proposed tax district to support Rotterdam Emergency Medical Services, the town’s nonprofit ambulance company. There was an organized opposition to the proposed tax district that was funded in part by Mohawk Ambulance, the for-profit company that was then jockeying for a contract with the town.
In the Pine Grove referendum, LeTarte said there didn’t seem to be any organized opposition and he was somewhat surprised by the number of people who voted against it.
“I was hopeful,” he said. “We tried to get the message out.”
Now the department will need to consider its options moving forward.
The cost to renovate the station on Dunnsville Road was estimated at $1.9 million, but renovation would not resolve space issues facing the district.
We’re going to have to think it through,” LeTarte said. “We put all our energy into putting the proposal up. Now it’s time to look past it.”
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