Residents of the Halfmoon-Waterford Fire District narrowly approved a proposal for a new $12 million fire station on Tuesday.
The referendum passed 494 to 461.
Plans call for a 18,310-square-foot firehouse to replace a station at 315 Middletown Road in Halfmoon, which was built in 1961.
The project’s approval, Fire District Commissioner John D’Alessandro said, was a weight off the shoulders of the volunteers, some of whom have been working to get the project approved for close to a decade.
“It’s a good feeling to be able to go forward,” he said.
Specifically, the district sought approval of a $10 million bond that will finance the majority of the $12 million project.
This is the second time residents have voted on the project.
The first proposal for a firehouse was defeated in November. The project that was approved Tuesday is a scaled down version of the earlier proposal.
Originally, site plans called for a 25,000-square-foot firehouse to replace the current one. The fire district was seeking a bond of $12,331,563 for the project.
The firehouse itself would have cost $9.3 million to build. Site preparation work, including drainage and leveling, was estimated at $2.5 million, and $1,575,000 would have paid for artist renderings and architectural planning for the project.
That proposal was voted down by 54-vote margin: 366 no to 312 yes.
The lower costs stem from a number of changes a planning committee made based on public input.
A planned community room was eliminated and the kitchen size was reduced.
The new plans also rotated the orientation of the proposed fire station, which reduced the amount of site work required.
Also, voting hours were expanded. In November, voting hours were 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. On Tuesday, they were noon to 9 p.m.
The longer voting window, volunteers said, made a difference. By early Tuesday afternoon, over 300 people had already come to vote, almost half the amount of the total number of votes placed in the first referendum.
Peg Newhouse of Waterford, who has lived in town for over 50 years, voted in favor of the proposal. She said she has never had to call the Fire Department, but she wants it to be as effective as possible should the need arise.
“Thank God we haven’t had that need,” she said. “But the building really needs work. And they need more volunteers.”
Don Roberts of Halfmoon also expressed support while voting on Tuesday at the firehouse. In order to function at maximum efficiency, he said, upgraded facilities are required.
“I think we definitely need one, and they did their work in scaling it down,” he said.
Some voters openly expressed their support for the project as they left the station.
“Thank you for all you guys do,” Meg Lance of Waterford said to volunteers as she walked back to her car.
“We’re all for it,” Tim Lance, also of Waterford, added.
The next step, D’Alessandro said, is to take the project out to bid. The process, including the final selection of a contractor, should take a few months. If all goes smoothly, ground could be broken on the project as early as the mid-fall.
The department will construct a pavilion first, serving as a base of operations while the station is being built and the old one torn down. Once the station is finished, the pavilion will be used as a gathering area for community groups.
D’Alessandro said he hopes to see continued involvement from neighbors in Fire District business.
“We’re certainly very appreciative for all the residents who came out to support the volunteers and frankly we encourage people to become part of the Fire Department. It’s the community’s Fire Department … be involved with it,” he said.
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