GFD to expand, $3.9M bond passes

— From the Guilderland Fire Department

Renovating and expanding the current firehouse, at 2303 Western Ave., to the tune of $3.9 million, will enhance the facility’s safety and functionality, according to David Messercola, chairman of the board of fire commissioners. The bond was approved by voters, 45 to 32.

GUILDERLAND — With a tiny turnout, voters in the Guilderland Fire District on Tuesday passed a $3.9 million bond project to expand and upgrade the 19-year-old firehouse. The project passed, 45 to 32.

“We did expect it to pass; it was no big surprise,” said David Messercola, the chairman of the board of fire commissioners, on Wednesday.

He went on, “Any time you ask the community to spend additional tax money, there are always some that will not be in favor. The majority did favor it, so we’re very happy.”

The fire commissioners estimated the cost for the 15-year bond at 28 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation so that a homeowner with a median-priced home of $246,500 would pay $69.93 a year, for an overall cost of $1,049.

Messercola said plans would be drawn up over the next five or six months, explaining that detailed architectural plans weren’t undertaken until the bond passed. He said the commissioners are working with Pacheco Ross Associates Architects, in Voorheesville.

The current firehouse, located at 2303 Western Ave., near the intersection with Willow Street, has three apparatus bays for five trucks; three offices shared by more than 20 people; no meeting space; and no training room, Messercola said before the vote.  “The facility just doesn’t meet the needs of the community.”

The department outlined these reasons for the project: The 41 volunteers can’t fit in the current meeting room; lockers are too close to exiting vehicles, creating safety issues; parking is deficient; more space is needed for records; a separate decontamination area is needed; office space, storage space, and mechanical areas are lacking; and current public access creates security concerns.

The fire district has already purchased land between the current firehouse and Willow Street, where a 19th-Century building that once housed a general store used to stand; that now-vacant land will be used for the expansion. The architect’s drawing shows two additional bays, for a total of five, in a new wing that looks to about double the size of the current facility.

The plan is to go out to bid on the project in January or February, Messercola said. “We should have no issue staying within the budget,” he said. “Once the contractors are chosen — under the Wicks Law, that’s tricky; you need three — we should start construction early next summer.”

He was referring to 1912 legislation to promote competition and protect workers’ rights that was expanded in the 1940s under the leadership of Senator Arthur Wicks; the state law now requires any government construction project built upstate that costs more than $500,000 be subject to separate contracts for electrical work; plumbing; and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning.

Messercola concluded, “We’re just happy that the public has always supported us.”

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