February 13, 2013

Upper Jay fire district approves new fire station


---- — UPPER JAY —  A referendum vote Tuesday gave officials here the go-ahead to build a new fire station.

Taxpayers in the Upper Jay Fire District approved the measure with 58 yes votes to 10 against.

“We’re really pleased for the community’s support,” Vice Chairman of the Commission Wayne Roberts said after the decision was in.

The Fire Commission plans to relocate their existing fire station — which was heavily damaged by flooding from Irene 18 months ago — moving it off the banks of the Ausable River to a vacant field at 161 Valley Road.

Funding for the $2.5 million project covers land purchase and fire station design/construction and is coming from insurance reimbursement funds, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and likely from state resources.

Taxpayers in Upper Jay would have to bond for a remaining $100,000, which was approved in Tuesday’s vote. 

Roberts said FEMA disaster assistance allowing for relocation has not yet been approved.

An initial denial from FEMA was appealed months ago.

“We still don’t have anything from FEMA,” Roberts said.

But last October, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced state funds would finish building the Keene Fire Station, the governor’s office told Upper Jay firefighters the state would help them, too.

“If it doesn’t come from FEMA the state will step in with the money. Last fall, when they gave Keene the money to build and move the fire station, they said to us ‘don’t worry’. Since (Superstorm) Sandy happened, I think the financial position of the state has changed somewhat. If we end up not getting the funding, we won’t be building,” Roberts explained.

Upper Jay’s firehouse and truck garage is situated right on the banks of the Ausable River and has been flooded many times over decades.

The relocation is part of hazard mitigation efforts the fire commission has planned for public safety.

Currently, some of the Upper Jay equipment is being housed at other sites.

The building was undermined in August 2011 when water rose more than 3 feet in the building.

Firefighters were able to get the trucks out in time, sparing additional loss.

The referendum vote Tuesday was held at the Wells Library in Upper Jay from 6 until 8 p.m.

Roberts said there are 140 tax parcels in their fire district, though some of those have more than one person registered to vote.

The $100,000 bond would add about $12 per $100,000 of real property value to taxpayer’s bills.

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