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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 8, 2011

Bond vote on Oct. 25
Pine Grove plans to expand its firehouse

By Anne Hayden

The Pine Grove Fire District, which covers a portion of Guilderland, is planning a $3.5 million expansion and renovation of its 40-year-old building.

The district, which mainly covers Rotterdam and Princetown, serves a total of 1,785 houses. Nearly 13 percent of those houses are in Guilderland.

Commissioner Herb LeTarte said the station, at 144 Dunnsville Road in Rotterdam, is outdated, not equipped to handle modern apparatus, and has numerous safety issues.

The expansion plan includes a drive-through apparatus bay, a renovation to provide extra space for offices, storage, and a community room. It would take place in two phases, allowing the station to remain in full service throughout the construction.

“It’s just tight quarters all around,” said LeTarte. He explained that the modern engines are at least 10 feet longer than they were when the station was built, and the bathrooms and entrances of the current building are not accessible to people with handicaps as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“There is no room right now for a shower, a place to do laundry, or a place for de-contamination,” LeTarte said.

The district started looking into renovations in 2003, and LeTarte said it discovered that the cost of bringing the building up to code at that time would have been $1.1 million.

“That would have been like putting a Band-Aid on it,” he said. The district also considered constructing a separate building to house apparatus and offices, but LeTarte said doing so would have been comparable to forming an entirely new district.

“We decided the best bang for our buck would be expanding and renovating,” LeTarte said.

The project will require funding through a bond; and a district vote on bonding has been scheduled for Oct. 25 at the Pine Grove Fire Station.

The district will provide information to the public during a Town of Rotterdam Planning Commission meeting on Sept. 20 and a public information meeting at the Pine Grove Fire Station on Oct. 18.

“We’re all in the same boat on taxes, we all have to pay them, too, and the board of commissioners is frugal; there is nothing frivolous in this package,” LeTarte said.

The bond would take 25 years to pay off, and, with an interest rate of 4.65 percent, the tax increase on the average assessed home in the district would be approximately $155.

If the bond is approved, LeTarte said the district would break ground on the project in April 2012, and it would take roughly one year to complete. 

“We just want a warm place to keep our trucks, and a safe place to leave from when we get called,” said LeTarte.

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