Scotia residents given more information on proposed fire station at testy public forum

Dennis Ross, the director of emergency services for H2M answers a question during a public hearing a Thursday evening regarding a proposed new fire station in Scotia. 

Dennis Ross, the director of emergency services for H2M answers a question during a public hearing a Thursday evening regarding a proposed new fire station in Scotia. 

SCOTIA A Scotia police officer was asked to come to a village public forum Thursday night regarding the proposal to build a new fire station and upgrade other municipal facilities after a resident called the presenter a derogatory term.

Mayor Tom Gifford said he texted the officer to come and the officer replied that they were already in the parking lot of the First Reformed Church of Scotia, where the forum was being held. The officer stayed for the rest of the evening. 

Gifford said he will ask for an officer to be at the next public forum on May 12. An officer has been at previous meetings, he said. 

The need for an officer came as various remarks were made toward Sean Foran, the vice president of Hueber Breuer, a construction company, as he took questions from residents regarding the proposed building. 

The project to build a new fire station has been contentious in town, particularly because of the cost associated with the project. 

The village is considering building an approximately 14,000-square-foot fire station in a portion of the municipal lot behind the village hall. That square-footage is down from a previously discussed almost 16,000-square-foot space. After previous comments by residents, Foran said he and H2M Architects & Engineers reconfigured the building to reduce its size so 12 parking spaces could be added back to a parking lot next to the building that was due to be reduced under originally-planned design. That lot currently allows for 57 spaces, and would have 41 spaces under the new plan.

The reduction in size also meant a reduction in costs from $9.9 million to $8.75 million. 

The village has been discussing a new fire station for the last two years as the current station, which is more than 100 years old, does not fit the needs of today’s firefighters nor does it meet a multitude of codes and standards. 

The project would also include reconfiguring the village hall to better meet the needs of the village and the police department. That is projected to cost around $5 million. 

“This piece of the project to be quite honest with you is harder to budget than the fire station piece,” Foran said. “New construction is always easier because there’s fewer unknowns.”

If the project is approved, H2M would do a structural analysis to ensure that the design Hueber Breuer has in mind will work. 

The village would look to bond the project. Foran said now is the time to get a bond for such a project. 

“It assumes a bond rate of 3%,” Foran said. “Right now, bonds are just over 2%. If we can get to the bond market before it goes up again, we will save money and this will be even better than it is right now.”

If this moves forward, it means a Scotia resident with a house assessed at $100,000 could face a tax increase of $193 annually. 

Foran said there are grants out there for projects like this, which will be looked into if the project moves forward. 

A man who did not provide his name during the forum asked how many vehicles the department has. Foran said the department has seven vehicles that would be housed in the facility – four large pieces and three small pieces. 

The building would be 80 feet in length with four doors. There would be three bays with two vehicles each, and then one vehicle parked in a smaller bay, Foran said. 

This would provide optimal space to open the door and not just squeeze into the trucks like the firefighters are doing in the department now. 

Resident Guy Diegelman asked what was being done to make sure the facility could last longer than 50 years. 

“If we’re going to spend $16 million on a project, I’d like to make sure it’s future-proofed as long as possible,” he said. 

Dennis Ross, director of emergency services for H2M, said they are looking at all the ways they can make the building last longer without raising costs of the project. 

Before the meeting ended, Diegelman said, if people don’t like the project, they shouldn’t attack the presenter. 

“If you have frustrations with it, bring it to your public personnel, not the individual that’s been hired to simply present and design a project,” he said.

He said anyone who attacks someone personally at a public forum should be ashamed of themselves. 

“If you don’t agree with the project, put a sign in your front yard that says vote no and stay home,” he said. “Don’t bring that level of personal negativity to a meeting, good grief.”

Diegelman said he’s still on the fence about the project, but excited to keep hearing more information on it. 

The meeting will be posted to the village’s website and there will be a survey that people can take as well to express their thoughts on the presentation.

The next public forum is May 14 at 7 p.m. at the First Reformed Church of Scotia. 

Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SB_DailyGazette.

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