SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city has taken the next step toward building a new fire/emergency medical service station on the city’s East Side, with the City Council approving a $300,000 contract for full architectural design of a new building.
The new station would be located on 2.36 acres of state land leased by the New York Racing Association that is part of the Oklahoma training track property. The state and NYRA have already signed off on the lease, which they see as boosting the level of fire protection available at the historic Saratoga Race Course.
This week, the City Council approved the design contract with CHA Consulting of Colonie. City Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton said having the design work done will improve the city’s chances of securing grant funding.
Last year, the city had a needs analysis and conceptual design done by Heuber-Breuer Construction, a Syracuse firm that has a specialty in municipal fire stations.
Heuber-Breuer proposed a six-apparatus station of just under 16,000 square feet, with an estimated construction cost of $5.5 million. The building would include an emergency operations center that could be used to coordinate all public safety functions during an emergency.
Having the architectural design work done will not commit the cash-strapped city to building the station, but would give it the documents needed to seek construction bids. It’s possible work could begin by late 2021, but far from certain given the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dalton said she didn’t want to speculate on when construction might happen, but said approving the design contract is a major step forward for a long-term project.
“I think it is really important to be sure we’re taking steps forward, and that we don’t let this [COVID] situation hijack years of effort,” Dalton said.
For city officials, constructing a fire station on Henning Road would achieve a goal the city has been working toward for 30 years. Much of that time was spent searching fruitlessly for available land east of the Northway, until Mayor Meg Kelly reached the agreement for the NYRA land in 2019.
The new station would be the city’s third station, and would focus on serving the city’s East Side, where a number of expensive new homes have been built east of the Northway in recent decades.
Dalton said if the city had a third fire/EMS station today, it would make a tremendous difference in the Fire Department’s ability to respond to the high volume of COVID calls the department now receives.