By PHIL NOBILE
Bonding for potential Purchase Fire Department expansion is set for an upcoming April 22 public vote as the department hopes to potentially grow its facilities with approval from local residents.
The elections, which will take place at the Purchase firehouse, located at 614 Anderson Hill Road, will ask voters to approve up to $175,000 in bonds to help pay for an adjacent property purchase to expand the firehouse’s overall lot. There is a possibility that the borrowing could lead to an increase in property taxes for the 4,000 residents of the Purchase fire district.
According to Purchase Fire District Secretary Robert Makowski, no concrete plans are in store for building a new facility, but buying the new property will allow for opportunity down the road.
“The property has become available to us, and we thought it would be in our best interests to take advantage of it being it was right next to the firehouse,” Makowski said. “The bar is constantly being raised on requirements for firefighters whether they are career or volunteer, and the district is constantly growing in buildings.”
Makowski, who is one of six board members on the Board of Fire Commissioners for the district, said the amount up for approval would be precautionary and potentially not even used. The fire district secretary did not estimate what a potential tax increase could cost the district’s residents if there was one or what the actual cost of the adjacent property would be.
“This is just permission to borrow up to $175,000 if we need it,” Makowski said. “There may not be any increase in taxes at all because the way we got to that point of having the reserve money was by using surplus and savings.”
The fire department’s plan calls for purchasing the adjacent 610 Anderson Hill Road property, which will add about a third of an acre to the department’s overall property. The proposed resolution up for a vote says the maximum estimated cost of the property will be $600,000, with $425,000 coming from the district’s capital reserve fund, and, if approved, will not exceed that amount.
Municipal and local finance laws require a vote to be held whenever money is needed to be borrowed, so the district’s 4,000 residents can vote on the matter next week.
Town Councilman Fred Sciliano, a Republican, was a former West Harrison fire department chief. He said the opportunity to buy property next door for the department “makes sense” and would be good for the firehouse going forward.
“It makes sense if they have an opportunity to buy property for future planning,” he said. “A lot of times, when the buildings were built, the equipment was a lot smaller and, today, between newer equipment and the town being not as small as it was overall, they need additional space for training and their operations. It’s a combination of things.”
The Purchase Fire Department consists of 54 volunteer firefighters.
The elections will take place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on April 22 at the Purchase Fire Department.
Anne Gold, the executive director for the Purchase Environmental Protective Association—a non-profit in Purchase that monitors all future development—could not be reached as of press time.