Jul 09, 2014 Allie Wenner Uncategorized
After almost seven years of research and planning, the Village of Manlius is ready to take the next step towards building a new fire station.
The proposed new station, which would be located at the corner of Route 92 and Enders Road, would replace the village’s two current fire stations, which are in dire need of repair.
Time is running out for the village – its contract with Walrus Enterprises, who has been holding the property for the village at a rate of $1,000 a month, is expiring at the end of August. Due to the recent passing of the CEO of this organization, the village is not confident that the current option agreement will be extended and if it does not act soon, it will likely lose the property.
The next step for the village is to take out a bond to pay off the expenses of the proposed project. According to New York State Finance Law, in order for a bond resolution to be adopted by a governmental entity, it must have completed the SEQR process to prove that the project “avoids or minimizes adverse environmental impacts … and weighs and balances them with the social, economic and other essential considerations.”
To begin the SEQR process, a lead agency must be determined and must complete environmental assessment forms, which are developed by the state to determine if a proposed project might have a significant impact on the environment.
Because the village has already done its homework in terms of environmental research, it is asking the town of Manlius to allow it to take lead agency status for the project in an effort to help speed up the process so it will be able to hold a referendum Aug. 26.
“Before the bond resolution can be put before the voters, a [positive findings statement] has to have been made,” said Manlius Village Clerk Martha Dygert. “The village estimates that $440,000 has been spent on this project so far. And to let it go after doing our due diligence and looking at [all of the possible environmental impacts], the potential of having to go back to square one and having to do all the environmental assessments and re-reviewing is going to add more to that cost.”
Because the proposed fire station would be built in the town of Manlius, the town would normally be recognized as the lead agent. On July 1, Dygert and Mayor Paul Whorrall appeared before the Manlius Town Board to answer questions relating to the recent lead agency declaration made by the village. As of press time, the town has not yet made a decision – town of Manlius Supervisor Ed Theobald said the board still has some “major concerns” about the issue.
“We have experience with projects in that area in the past,” Theobald said. “It’s a very sensitive area – there have been other projects that have tried to build there and experienced a strong opposition from the surrounding residents who live there. It seems like it would be more useful if we were the lead agency… if that doesn’t work out, we could always consider co-lead agency.”
55 percent of the village’s fire and EMS budget is paid for by town of Manlius taxpayers residing in the Manlius Fire District. But if the village were to hold a referendum, those town residents would not be allowed to vote – a sentiment echoed by Mayor Whorrall as to why the village is committed to work closely with the town on this project.
Dygert told the board that if the referendum were to fail, the village would stop pursuing the plan to build a new station entirely.
“If the vote was to [fail], everything else is irrelevant and the project ends,” she said. “At that point, I think the [village] board is committed to looking at renovating the two existing stations and doing the best with what we have.”
The proposed 20,000 square foot facility is projected to cost the village between $6 and $7 million. Whorrall said that the studies conducted by the village and an inter-departmental townwide study found that the most efficient and frugal option would be to construct a new facility as opposed to renovating the two existing stations.
“Building a new station gives us the option of having a 30-year bond,” Whorrall said. “Repairing two stations only gives us the option of a 15-year bond. We’d be able to spread out the cost and make it a lot easier on our taxpayers.”
Whorrall added that due to the location of the existing station in the northwest corner of the fire district, coupled with the heavy traffic through the center of the village – the volunteer personnel, the majority of whom live toward the center of the district, aren’t able to respond to calls some fire department volunteers, many of whom who live in the southeast portion of the fire district, to get to the station, which is located in the northwest corner of the fire district, in time to do their jobs properly. The proposed location at the corner of Enders and 92 would be almost exactly in the middle of Manlius’ fire district, which reaches as far east as Madison County.
The studies determined that the village couldn’t renovate station 1, located on Stickley Drive, without losing its parking lot. And station 2, located on Pompey Center Road, has no room for expansion. Both stations have issues that require remediation to ensure the health and safety of emergency personnel.
“For us, it’s the best location in terms of getting our personnel to the firehouse, the best for making sure we can respond to calls as quickly as possible and it’s also something that we have to do to make it safe and reliable for our personnel to be able to live there, train there and to have the room to hold all of our equipment to perform our job.”
Theobald said the town’s and village’s attorneys are working together to reach a decision as soon as possible. He hopes to have a plan by the town board’s meeting on July 23.
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