The Westhampton Beach Fire District is currently developing a Capital Improvement Plan for the firehouse. There have been several public informational meetings, as well as numerous articles in the local newspapers and on local media websites. As this plan is moved forward, the District will hold more public meetings to provide information and encourage public participation in the process. Below is presented is a brief overview of the current status of the plan, as well as a review of the process up to this point.
The current firehouse was constructed by the Village of Westhampton Beach in 1953 as a municipal building, housing not only the Fire Department, but also the Police Department and the Village Office. The apparatus bays were limited in size, requiring an addition to the building around 1960. The Police Department moved across the parking lot to their own building around 1974. Another addition was added around 1978 that provided additional truck bays at the rear of the original building.
The Board of Fire Commissioners has spent almost three years developing a plan to address the numerous issues with the current building, as well as the old Police Station building that was transferred to the Fire District when the new Village Hall was built. Below is a summary of the largest deficiencies that have been identified as needing to be addressed:
Several plans were developed to determine the best course of action for correcting the issues. The first plans centered on renovating the current building as it exists today and adding on some additional areas. Plans were also developed that called for the firehouse and the old police station to be removed and replaced with one new building. After reviewing the actual estimated costs involved with all the plans, it was determined that the most responsible plan was the new building. The cost of one new building was determined to be very near the cost of renovations and additions to the old building. It was the only plan that addressed all of the deficiencies noted above. Additionally all functions of the fire department would now be in one building, thus eliminating the old police station and the future renovation needs that building would eventually also require.
Below is a site plan, floor plans and front view of the proposed building. These are not final drawings, but rather drawings used to establish the overall layout of the building and provide an accurate cost estimate. The next phase of the process includes refining these plans with more detail, and the final plans may not be exactly as seen here.
The shaded area of the site plan is the general proposed location of the new building.
A general layout of the front elevation.
First floor plan, showing the apparatus bays, turnout gear area, ready room and district office.
Second floor plan, showing meeting/training room, kitchen and offices. Both floor plans and the elevations will be further refined as the planning process continues.
The total estimated cost of this project is $14 million dollars. It would be funded by a 20-year bond that would be put to public vote sometime next spring. A current bond will be paid off next year, so the funding currently budgeted for that bond will be used to offset the cost of the new firehouse. For a home that is assessed at $600,000 the annual tax increase would be approximately $82.00, for a total fire district tax of $265.00. For comparison, the fire district tax for the same home in the Southampton Town side of the Eastport Fire District (Speonk/Remsenburg) would be $278.00, East Quogue would be $363.00 and Hampton Bays would be $450.00.
We feel this is a reasonable request to the public to provide the community with a safe, modern fire station for our volunteer firefighters that will be a long term solution and not a short term patch job. We are also very aware of the current state of the economy. Since this project will be financed over 20 years, the impact on the taxpayers per year will be less than 2% of their current overall tax bill, with the first payments for the bond at least two years away. The current interest rates are low but may start increasing soon. By financing now we lock in the lower rate and reduce the total cost of the financing. We feel that now is the best time to persue this project.
All of the information is available at the Fire District office, and anyone who would like more information or has any questions is encouraged to contact the office at 288-1896. Notices of additional meetings will be posted on this website, as well as shared with the local meda to keep everyone informed.