ROTTERDAM – You can’t tell from the outside yet, but the original building for the Rotterdam Fire District No. 1 station in Rotterdam Junction is sinking forward toward Route 5s.
Commissioner James Carangelo said department members started noticing cracks in a hallway adjacent to the original 1962 structure, which houses the station’s apparatus, about a year ago. It was the first real tell-tale sign of an issue.
Above the doorway is a crack in the wall about a foot long. Other zig-zag cracks exist in a crawl space.
The department had an engineer look at the structure and when the engineer placed a level against the wall there was a small gap –the building was beginning to bow, Carangelo said.
The district is in the middle of a permissive referendum period to allow the department to use $70,000 from the reserve fund. During a permissive referendum people have a 30-day window to ask for a vote on the proposal once a notice on the proposal has been published. The notice was published in early April. If no residents ask to have the request taken to a vote, the town will begin work immediately to level the building again.
Without the repairs who knows what additional damage could occur, he said.
“If we let it go to the extreme it would keep sinking,” he said. “It’s not stopping.”
He said no residents have asked for a vote on the funding.
“Even if we had a vote, who wouldn’t pay for it,” he said.
The plan is to dig 55 feet or less into the ground until contractors hit bedrock and then stabilize the building with helical piers and planks.
Carangelo said the department isn’t sure why the building began sinking, but believe it could have been caused by flooding from the Irene and Lee storms in 2011.
He said department operations shouldn’t be impacted by the work and it will take a week to 10 days to fix the issue.
Carangelo also said fire Chief Shawn Taylor reached out to Congressman Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, about potential funding streams so the district didn’t need to use reserve money.
“Our office spoke with chief Taylor this week over the phone,” said Nicole Parisi, the chief of staff for Santabarbara. “He will be sending us a more detailed letter with the specifics about the project and cost estimates. We can help them apply for possible state or federal funding if it becomes available.”
Over the years Tonko’s office has conducted annual meetings where a representative from the Federal Emergency Management Agency talks to fire department officials about grants they can apply for, said Matt Sonneborn, the communications director for Tonko. Those two grants are the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response.