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Jan 6, 2010 4:01 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Commissioners say renovations are needed at Westhampton Beach Firehouse

Jan 6, 2010 4:01 PM

The Westhampton Beach Firehouse on Sunset Avenue has stood largely unchanged for 60 years, and the fire district’s commissioners want to do something about that.

The fire commissioners are starting to discuss renovating the outdated, two-story building, though they have not formulated any final plans and have not yet discussed potential costs, said Fred Overton, the chairman of the Westhampton Beach Board of Fire Commissioners.

“In a house, you have to do certain repairs and upkeep or it falls apart 
on you,” he said. “If we weren’t doing anything, we wouldn’t be doing our job.”

The board has been meeting with architects with the firm H2M Group of Melville, though Mr. Overton stressed that it is still months away from putting any plans down on paper and from estimating the cost of the renovation project. Once the commissioners decide what updates need to be done, they will run the ideas for renovations past members of the Westhampton Beach Fire Department and hold public hearings.

“It’s strictly in the formative stages,” Mr. Overton said.

Taxpayers living in the fire district, which covers Westhampton Beach, Westhampton and Quiogue, would eventually have to vote on the bond to pay for the renovations as part of a public referendum. A vote date has not yet been set.

Though he wasn’t sure what the fire commissioners are planning, Westhampton Beach Fire Department Chief Al Tudisco said that renovations are needed at the firehouse.

“I think that we’ve outgrown it,” he said.

The Sunset Avenue firehouse needs an elevator to make the building handicapped accessible, said Victor Levy, a Westhampton Beach Fire Commissioner. Currently, the firehouse has only a chair lift that can bring a handicapped person up to the second floor.

“That’s not 100-percent satisfactory,” he said. “We need to make [the firehouse] handicap compliant.”

The fire commissioners also want to address possibly re-configuring the main entrance to the firehouse. Fire trucks have gotten bigger over the years and, in some cases, drivers might have only a few inches of space to spare when backing the trucks in and out.

“It’s a very tight fit,” Mr. Levy said.

Mr. Overton agreed, saying that it could be possible to replace the firehouse’s four main doors with two larger ones.

Additionally, Mr. Levy said the bathrooms and plumbing inside the building also need to be updated. “It’s among a whole bunch of different things that we are looking at,” he said.

Mr. Overton also stressed that those ideas are not set in stone, and it will take a few months before the commissioners put plans to paper.

“We’re just seeing what’s feasible and what’s not feasible,” he said. “We’re nowhere near going out to bid.”

The firehouse was built 60 years ago. An addition to the building was constructed in the late 1950s, shortly after the main structure was built, and another addition was constructed in the late 1970s. There have been no other renovations to the building since then, according to Mr. Overton.

Westhampton Beach Village used to house its offices inside the firehouse building but vacated that space when it moved into the new Village Hall on Mill Road in 2006.

The Westhampton Beach Fire District also built a storage facility on Seabreeze Avenue that was completed earlier this year. That structure cost $1 million to construct.

The second story of the Sunset Avenue firehouse includes a kitchen, bathrooms and a meeting area, the latter of which takes up about one-third of the second floor. The Westhampton Beach Fire District’s business offices are located toward the rear of the second floor, according to Mr. Levy.

The fire trucks are parked at street level, which is also where all the fire-fighting gear is stowed. The firehouse does not have a room where firefighters can wash off any hazardous materials that they might have encountered while battling a blaze.

“That needs to be addressed,” Mr. Levy said.

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The Open Meetings Law applies to the Board of Fire Commissioners.

Hopefully, the meetings are open to the public and the press as such plans are formulated. That is part of the process. Such things just don't spring out of Executive Session fully grown. The public has the right to observe from the moment of conception.

Open Meetings Law below from the NY Department of State

§100. Legislative declaration. It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Jan 11, 10 12:22 PM
Are all Overton's in office from one end of the hamptons to the other all related?
By RemembertheDucks (54), Eastport on Jan 12, 10 6:11 PM
To Publius - All Westhampton Fire District meetings are open to the public. They are warned in accordance to the open meeting laws and are held at the fire district offices (the old WHB Village office) at the firehouse. Take a good look at your official notice section of the paper and you will find them. Unfortuanately, like most governmental organizations, few people attend the meetings (including the press) until such time as a difficult issue arises than people start wondering why these boards ...more
By Native Westhamptonite (14), Westhampton on Jan 13, 10 12:16 PM
Its funny how people sit on here and complain and make stinks when they don't even show up for anything anywhere! Most governmental organizations don't keep things a secret, SHOW up for these meetings and you will know what goes on!
By got2loveit (4), westhampton on Jan 13, 10 11:33 PM
As copied from the Fire District webpage

"2007 Notable Events

October 16 - Budget Hearing
December 15 - Fire District Election"

http://www.whbfd.com/fire-district.php

It does not appear that the District has updated its webpage since some time in 2007

However, Under the Open Meetings Law

§104. Public notice.
...
5. When a public body has the ability to do so, notice of the time and place of a meeting given in accordance with subdivision ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Jan 28, 10 8:57 AM