Press-Republican

April 9, 2013

May 7 referendum set on new Tupper building

By KIM SMITH DEDAM
Press-Republican

---- — TUPPER LAKE — The Tupper Lake Village Board will bring the new combined fire/police station to voters in early May.

Trustees and Mayor Paul Maroun are seeking to bond up to $3.2 million for a $4.5 million shared emergency-services building.

The bond amount would be reduced by funding from federal sources, including likely support from Homeland Security, though final grants have not been established, officials say.

A public presentation on the final design is set for April 23, two weeks ahead of the referendum vote.

COST PER THOUSAND

Maroun said Monday that the tax impact of a $3.2 million bond would be between 24 and 29 cents per $1,000 of property value for village residents.

“For a $100,000 home, that would be between $24 and $29 per year for the bond,” he said.

Officials said it would be a long-term bond, likely between 20 and 30 years, though the specific length had yet to be determined.

For the past year, the village has been working with Hueber-Breuer Construction, based in Syracuse, to analyze the feasibility and cost of a new fire/police station.

The proposed building site on Santa Clara Avenue is under purchase option for $80,000 from a private landowner. 

That cost is included in the proposed bond amount, Maroun said.

“The Village of Tupper Lake will not borrow any more than $3.2 million,” the mayor said. “And on the building itself, we can only spend $4.5 million. If we receive grants, and the final bid comes in less, we wouldn’t have to bond as much.”

VILLAGE VOTE

Though the Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department is made up of volunteers from both the town and village and covers both as well, only village voters are allowed, by law, to participate in the referendum.

Because the village owns and manages the fire and police departments, the village is responsible for bonding.

SHARED STATION

Putting the two emergency services together is a key aspect of the new station.

Sean Foran, project manager for Heuber-Breuer, said Monday that they are working to finalize the site plan and design layout for presentation to the public on April 23.

Originally proposed at 16,000 square feet, the layout being finalized is somewhat smaller, Foran said.

“We’re working through some final schematics, and the design is changing a little bit to require 14,400 square feet.

“We’re continuing to work on the final plan and proceeding with grant writing. Right now, we’ve got some strong indicators that we are going to be able to secure substantial resources for a shared emergency-services building.

“The shared-services piece is very important, not only for the community, but it is also driving a lot of the funding on a federal level.”

Foran explained that grant funding would reduce the need to bond for $3.2 million.

The Village Board set that figure as the top limit.

“It is rare that we actually spend all of that,” Foran said.

SPACE ISSUES

The need for a new station has been detailed in months of research.

The police station has been housed in the basement of the Village Offices, a former funeral parlor, for 60 years. The rooms were formerly used as a morgue.

The fire station, as it sits, can’t hold all of Tupper Lake’s fire equipment.

“The ladder truck is stored currently offsite, in the town garage,” Maroun said.

And any incident command for fires, floods or other emergencies ends up crammed into the Village Board office, with additional police, fire and volunteer resources scattered over several village locations.

“We have worked closely with the police and fire departments all the way through this,” Maroun said. “I have heard nothing but general agreement on a shared-services facility. It cuts the cost. Police and fire departments can both use the conference and training rooms instead of building one for each of them.”

The 2-acre site selected is also central to the town and village of Tupper Lake.

“It is the first big lot coming off Route 3 towards the Civic Center,” Maroun said.

“It’s really in a good location. It has a back way to get uptown and gives us quicker access to the (Tupper) Junction.”

CALLS DOUBLE

Research on the need for a new fire station was completed by the beginning of this year.

Looking at the 112-year history of the Tupper Lake Fire Department, Hueber-Breuer found that fire calls have more than doubled in the past seven years.

“A significant portion of the call-volume increase can be traced to new state mandates requiring the Fire Department to first respond to all fire-alarm activations at facilities for developmentally disabled clients,” the report says.

“The Tupper Lake Fire District encompasses numerous facilities in this category, including institutional treatment centers (Sunmount), which accounted for 41 alarms over the past four years, and satellite residences and community homes, accounting for another 23 calls over that span.

“In addition, the Church Street apartments and Wawbeek Road nursing facility have further impacted call volume recently.”

MORE TRAINING

At the same time, training requirements for first responders have also increased.

Fire officials have to complete training for hazardous-materials operations, officer duty, confined spaces, firefighter survival and arson awareness.

All Fire Department members complete an annual OSHA eight-hour update, and many take additional classes in pump operations, incident command, structural collapse and vehicle extrication. 

“All of the above continue to place stress on the limited training facilities available,” the report said.

The Police Station has run out of room to hold suspects and for storage.

Email Kim Smith Dedam:kdedam@pressrepublican.com

+++++

TIMELINE

The building design and site plan for a combined Tupper Lake police/fire station will be presented in a public meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, at Goff-Nelson Memorial Library, at 41 Lake St.

The project manager will be there to detail the plans and site elevation and to provide a breakout of project costs for taxpayers to review. Village of Tupper Lake residents will vote on the project from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, at Goff-Nelson Memorial Library.