SCOTIA – Scotia residents will head to the polls Tuesday to decide whether the village should bond for around $13.8 million for 24 to 26 years to build a new fire station and renovate the current village hall, which also houses the police department.
The village has accumulated boxes over the years of documents and studies discussing the need to upgrade its facilities which are at least a century old. None of the facilities meet the needs of the employees working in them or the tasks that come with their jobs, officials have said. They also do not meet some safety standards, including those that make the buildings compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Mayor Tom Gifford, also a volunteer firefighter with the department, has pushed in his final year on the board to get the bonding approved so the village can move forward with the project.
In 2008 the village held a referendum for the project, which at that point was estimated to cost over $8 million. It failed.
Prior to the final public information session Thursday evening the public was invited to tour the facilities.
Amanda Gonzalez-Barone, owner of Girl Fight Fitness, who is also running for a seat on the village board and has attended the forums said she had to wiggle her tripod around the tight spaces in the firehouse in order to illustrate the conditions for those who could not attend the open house.
She and others recognize the need for the facilities but are concerned about the cost since taxes have risen in the village over the years and this project would increase taxes.
“We need to have a better fire station,” said one resident. ”We need a better police station. We can’t afford the cost.”
The Fire Department has a maximum of four career firefighters, a minimum of three stationed at the department during the day, along with the chief and a max of three or minimum of two at night. Other than that new information much of what had been said at past meetings was reiterated to the handful of people who attended in person along with two people on zoom.
The project calls for building a new 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. That change allowed for the addition of parking spaces back to what was left of the lot. 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 department has seven vehicles that would be housed in the facility – four large pieces and three small pieces.
The proposed building would be 80 feet in length with four doors. There would be three bays with two vehicles each, and then space for one vehicle to park in a smaller bay. The other half of the project calls for spending $5 million to renovate the existing village hall to better suit the needs of the village employees and police department and meet various compliance requirements including ADA standards.
If this moves forward, it means a Scotia resident with a house assessed at $100,000 could face a tax increase of $193 annually.
If approved the design process will begin and then the village will need to bid out the project, said Sean Foran, vice president of fire protection services of Hueber Breuer, the Syracuse-based construction management firm the village is working with. If bids come back too high, the project will not be completed.
“The village can not spend more than is publicly approved,” Foran said.
The only way it could move forward with a project that costs more than the $13.8 million it wants to bond for is by getting public approval for more money.
Videos of the forums can be viewed on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGbVFDQrfJ54neJuszEf8sQ.
Voting Day information
When: Noon to 9 p.m., Tuesday June 7
Where: Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, 103 S. Reynolds St.
Who can vote: you are registered in scotia to vote, own, rent or lease property in scotia that is also your primary residence.
If you are a business owner but do not reside in Scotia you cannot vote in the referendum. If you own rental property but do not live there full time you cannot vote in the referendum.
People can register to vote on the same day as the referendum.
Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SB_DailyGazette.