QUEENSBURY — South Queensbury volunteer firefighters have given up their dream of a $4 million-plus new building.
Town Supervisor John Strough kept asking the firefighters to reduce their request, which started at $6 million and then was reduced to $4.1 million. The town would have paid the entire bill, increasing its yearly payments to the fire department by at least 19 percent.
Such an increase is hard to balance now that the town must stay under the 2 percent tax cap, Strough noted repeatedly.
Firefighters wanted a larger kitchen, new offices and a bigger vehicle bay.
At one point, Building Committee Chairman Ron Dufour described the project as “new everything.”
Board members told the fire company that the price was simply too high. On Monday, firefighters retreated.
They are now proposing a $2.5 million renovation.
“We wouldn’t need any additional money to move forward with the project,” Treasurer Bill St. John said. “We’ve scaled back and gone back to a renovation of the building.”
The Town Board previously increased its yearly payments to the fire company so it could pay off old debt in preparation for the building project. That will work, as the new debt will replace old debt that was paid off, St. John said.
“That would keep us with our same debt service,” he said.
Town Board members were pleased.
“This is much better,” Strough said. “We’re now in the comfort zone.”
Board member George Ferone added that he understood the change required a great deal of work.
“We appreciate your hard work,” he said.
The fire company still needs help from the town — it needs another $70,000 a year for a new firetruck. Board members knew that was coming, and had cited that cost when faced with the construction project.
Strough told them he would rather pay for a firetruck than a building.
The company now plans to buy a new firetruck next year, replacing a 1988 truck. It has been the company’s secondary truck since 2011, when the company replaced another truck, but it is still the primary vehicle when the newer truck is being repaired.
The building project will now consist mainly of repairs: new roofs, pavement and landscaping, better drainage and the replacement of leaking windows.
A meeting room that was damaged by water will be repaired as well.
“It’s not being used, due to the mold,” architect Shaun Rivers said. “That will be reclaimed.”
That means new insulation and a new wall.
In the oldest part of the building, where vehicles were once parked, workers will create an office and exercise room.
The overhead door is too low for modern fire trucks.
“It’s really not usable for vehicles,” Rivers said.
The building will also get a new heating and cooling system, and all lights will be replaced with LEDs. The old generator will be replaced, vehicle exhaust systems will be added to three vehicles and the parking bay and wash bay will get a new epoxy floor covering.
“The overall idea is we end up with a building that’s going to give them a good 25 years of service,” Rivers said. “As close as possible to a maintenance-free building.”
The company is also trying to buy an adjacent property. Then workers would build a circular driveway so that fire trucks would not have to back up.