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Sep 16, 2009 12:59 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village sets date for vote on new firehouse

Sep 16, 2009 12:59 PM

In a referendum on October 9, Southampton Village officials will ask taxpayers to approve a $5.9 million project that includes demolishing the current Hampton Road firehouse and building a new one in its place.

The new firehouse would be 14,000 square feet, more than triple the size of the current 4,500-square-foot building, Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley said. The new two-floor firehouse would have a partial basement, four bays for the village’s fire trucks, a multipurpose room, a conference room, and a gear room where firefighters would be able to gear up before heading to a blaze, according to documents provided by Southampton Village.

On October 9, village voters will decide whether or not the village issues a $5.9 million bond to pay for the construction. The 20-year bond would be paid off in 2030, Mr. Epley said. If the project is approved by voters, a village resident whose home is assessed at $1 million would see a property tax increase of $48 a year, or $4 per month.

The mayor said construction could begin as early as this spring. It would take anywhere from 12 to 18 months to build the structure, according to Southampton Fire Chief Roy “Buddy” Wines IV.

The current $5.9 million plan is the third option for the replacement of the Hampton Road firehouse proposed to the Village Board by the fire department. The first plans, submitted by the fire department more than a year ago, featured a building that would have been more than 25,000 square feet and came with a price tag of about $10 million, according to Mr. Epley.

The current version, designed by Dominic LaPierre at Ashley McGraw Architects on Main Road in Aquebogue, is a scaled-back version of the second plan, Chief Wines said. The second plan, which, at $7 million, was deemed still too expensive by village officials, was the same size as the current proposal but featured a steel-frame roof, wood paneling, a wash down system for trucks, and a full basement, among other amenities.

Once that plan was rejected in June, Chief Wines said he told the architects to design the new firehouse as cheaply as possible, and with little extravagance. The current proposal has a wood-frame roof, a smaller basement, cinder block walls and concrete floors.

“It’s a very functional building,” Mr. Epley said.

The exterior of the firehouse will have a historical flair and will feature outriggers positioned along the roof line, explained Village Trustee Paul Robinson, the village’s fire commissioner. He added that the firehouse will be reminiscent of the Southampton Train Station, located on Railroad Plaza.

“They worked diligently to find a perfect compromise,” Trustee Richard Yastrzemski said at the Village Board meeting on Thursday, September 10.

At the same meeting, the trustees and mayor passed a resolution making Friday, October 9, the official date for the referendum. Registered voters can cast ballots on the project from noon to 9 p.m. at the Levitas Center for the Arts at the Southampton Cultural Center, located at 25 Pond Lane.

The current firehouse, built in 1959, is too small for the trucks the department uses today, Chief Wines said. There is only a 2-inch clearance for the trucks to get in and out of the garage, and space inside is so tight that only one door of a truck can be opened at a time. The new firehouse will comply with the New York State Fire Code and Occupational Safety and Heath Administration requirements, according to Mr. Epley.

The planned building will be able to accommodate all 150 members of the fire department for meetings or training events, the chief said. He added that only 70 members can fit inside the current house.

With the plans for the new firehouse on Hampton Road moving forward, discussion of a similar project at the Windmill Lane firehouse have been put on the back burner, Chief Wines said. It is much easier to address the issues at the Hampton Road firehouse than at the Windmill Lane facility, he said, as the latter is located in the floodplain, and any expansion would create issues with on-site parking. “If we expand that firehouse, we’ll lose the parking there,” he said, noting that the firehouse is on a small lot.

Chief Wines added that the new Hampton Road firehouse is also expected to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified, which means that it will be more energy efficient and will have less of a negative impact on the environment than traditionally constructed buildings.

On Thursday, Mr. Epley noted that the village’s grant writer, Jen Mesiano, is applying for a $2.6 million federal grant to help pay for the new firehouse, although he emphasized that the grant process is extremely competitive.

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I appreciate what our volunteer fire departments do on the east end as much as anyone however this seems like yet another overpriced pet project...Why would a new building need to be 3 times the size of the old one? At a cost of nearly 6 mill..that's completely wrong on so many levels......
By pmofo (37), East Quogue on Sep 12, 09 8:28 AM
I agree with pmofo on size and cost. What's especially laughable is that the same village board that's pushing for this monument couldn't see fit to buy a single new ambulance for the village ambulance company--which, on a day to day basis has a far greater impact on the lives of village residents than the FD. They had to go hat in hand and finally got a private donor to buy one for them.
Moreover, why on earth would an architect design a fire house to look like a train station? What's up with ...more
By hamptonsfoodie (3), Southampton on Sep 12, 09 8:49 AM
I too appreciate what all our volunteers do, but nearly SIX MILLON dollars for a building???? RIDICULOUS! This is just over the top! I understand the exiisitng building is "tight" but so are these economic times. There are people losing jobs, taking decreases in pay, struggling to pay their bills (even in this village). To put any additional tax burden is just plain unfair. No ambulance but six mill for firehouse?????? Makes no sense to me.
By powerwalker (52), Southampton on Sep 13, 09 5:50 PM
Remember, this is just the hampton road site. Step 2 is the windmill lane house. That would be approximately another 6 million after the hampton road site is done.

By C Law (354), Water Mill on Sep 14, 09 5:18 AM
Why dont all of you volunteer and maybe you will see how much a new firehouse is needed. With new technology and regulations these days, the fire Equipment and Apparatus is getting much larger and needs more room to accomodate them. This building was sufficient several years ago but now with new equipment and apparatus, it cannot hold as much. This firehouse used to hold 5 trucks at one time. Today, because of the larger apparatus, it can only hold 3 trucks. What does it take to make you all realize ...more
By SH Local (8), Southampton on Sep 14, 09 12:50 PM
Well said SH Local. I'm a volunteer (SVVA), and it sounds like you are a volunteer too.

The general public has NO idea what is required to run both a fire and ambulance house. There are federal, state and county regulations that must be adhered to, and unfortunately those regulations cost a lot.

Granted, perhaps some of the fire department plans for their new house may have to be scaled down a little, but that does not negate the fact that this new house is needed.

It ...more
By Uncle Fester (61), Southampton on Sep 14, 09 1:59 PM
SH Local

I read all the comments and didn't find anyone critical of the work of the volunteer firemen and women.

care to point it out to us?
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Sep 14, 09 5:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
I propose that anyone who actually has the right to vote on this issue (Southampton Village residents) do some research into what federal and state regulations are still unmet at the current fire house. You will find that the current firehouses do not meet these requirements. Then do some research on what it will take to make the firehouse compliant...and you will find that it involves building a new structure since these requirements were not in place or as stringent in 1959 when the current ...more
By remytwoton (23), southampton on Sep 14, 09 10:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
According to the records, the Southampton Fire Department repsonded to 924 calls last year. Of that amount, 413 of them were calls involving truck from the firehouse. That means the members were in the houses a little over one time per day for a 365 days a year. OSHA has very strick requirements for spacing between the trucks and the layout of firehouses. Currently the firehouse does not meet these requirements. We are asking our volunteers to not only respond to dangerous fire situations, ...more
By RKJBS (14), Southampton on Sep 15, 09 8:29 AM
i agree with facless i am a member of Southamtpon Fire Dept Hampton Rd Fire house is way to small.
By fdny7318 (60), Water Mill on Sep 15, 09 5:53 PM
I think that everyone who is in opposition of this new firehouse should make every effort to attend any public information meeting that may come up. It is a pricey project but when you look at the regulations that everyone is talking about and the fact that we all know the current house does not meet regulations the price is mere peanuts. This by no means will be a monster of a building and it was not designed like a train station, you are miss reading the information. The building will have accents ...more
By MACK (50), Southampton on Sep 16, 09 9:21 AM
A new firehouse is definitely needed, and, given what construction costs these days, 6 million sounds pretty reasonable!! Those of you that are criticizing, take a look at some of the needless construction numbering in the tens of millions around you and ask why our volunteers don't deserve that!! I commend our volunteers and am beyond grateful they do what they do....they deserve an updated facility that will accomodate the department now and in the future.
By LocalMom (36), Southampton on Sep 16, 09 11:47 AM
I hope all approve the new building for the fire department. We all cry about cost, but as you can see the VOLUNTEERS work with what they are given and have also made changes to the original plans. Chief Wines is a builder, and he knows like I that in the private sector we could build this building cheaper that the projected cost, but when you build anything with tax payer dollars, you are held to a higher labor cost and also required to pay more of the benefits as well as costs of all contractors ...more
By trurepublician (53), hampton bays on Sep 16, 09 11:16 PM
If any of the people who are against this plan vote in the village, & feel that it is an unneeded luxury for the Volunteer Firefighters who protect your property they should Contact the Fire Dept & voice your concern. They can show you trucks that barely fit in under the doors. They can show you an 18" space beteween an apperatus & a wall in which Firefighters gear up to respond to a call... Maybe at your house?

Or, think about how much a suit would cost the Village when one of our volunteers ...more
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Sep 18, 09 1:24 PM
Come on people. I'm all for improvements and getting the best equipment... but 6 MILLION dollars? It's insane - especially when we're already so far in the hole from bad economy and financial shenanigans from the Klowns in office.

Has anyone even considered something more reasonable - like maybe making the existing structure a little larger?
By littleplains (305), olde england on Sep 22, 09 11:13 AM
The material that the current firehouse is made of does not comply under the new codes and requirements. Also with new apparatus and equipment, the new firehouse needs to be a lot larger...not just "a little larger" Why dont you go to the meeting on Wednesday and voice all of your concerns instead of bickering on here. Dont just make up your mind and say 5.9 million is too much money, go and hear what the village and contractors have to say and look at the problems yourself! Hey you could always ...more
By SH Local (8), Southampton on Sep 22, 09 4:00 PM