Monday December 10, 2012

ZEKE WRIGHT

Staff Writer

CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. -- Planning for a new firehouse for the Cambridge Volunteer Fire Department will be 10 years in the making in 2013 according to department chaplain Paul Baker.

"We're not starting from zero," Baker said. Funds for designs and to begin studying the proposed empty tract of land on Gilbert Street were secured in 2006 by state Sen. Betty Little and then-Assemblyman Roy McDonald. But "now we're in the ‘no free lunch phase,' because we know it's coming down to local means," Baker told village trustees Wednesday.

While a proposed firehouse project in Greenwich has failed to secure majority support over two consecutive votes, Cambridge officials hope local plans will fare better at the ballot box following a series of informational meetings early next year.

A final workshop meeting is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, at the Cambridge firehouse, while a first informational meeting with a public presentation and estimated tax impact has been scheduled for Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.

The current firehouse at 11 Main St. has long been deemed too small for the department's needs, requiring fire apparatus to be pulled out before volunteers can train or even suit up.


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Conceptual plans for a replacement were originally drawn in 2009, but they were scaled back after the estimated cost became prohibitive and a similar proposal in Greenwich was rejected for the first time in July 2011.

"We started out ... with a firehouse that met everyone's wants," said Cambridge Mayor Stephen Robertson, a member of the fire department. "It's been whittled down, whittled down, whittled down to now when it's down to the fire department's needs."

Original architectural plans called for a 15,000-square-foot brick building with five bays and office space, totaling approximately $3.4 million. Through committee in consultation with a second engineer, the current proposal is for an approximately 10,860-square-foot, pre-engineered steel building with a brick facade that should cost significantly less, under $2 million.

The village will own the firehouse and its construction will require a loan, necessitating a village-wide referendum.

On Wednesday, trustees also decreased the amount for a short-term loan to cover the unexpected replacement of a police department vehicle. Last month, Cambridge-Greenwich police officers lost control of a cruiser while in pursuit of a speeding vehicle, totaling the police car.

After receiving the final insurance estimate, trustees approved a Bond Anticipation Note in the amount of $15,405 for the replacement vehicle, roughly $9,000 less than officials previously expected to borrow.