Voters gave the Millwood fire district a mandate to borrow $9.95 million for a new firehouse with approval Tuesday night of a bond. It passed with 402 in favor and 154 against, according to unofficial results. That makes it a difference of almost 3-1, according to the results stated.
Applause and cheer erupted, and sirens sounded at the current , a circa 1924 building that is slated to be replaced by the proposed 18,000 square-foot, 5-bay replacement, which would be several hundred feet east on Millwood Road (Route 133). The call for replacing the firehouse, which goes back decades, according to the district, is due to its age and that it does not need modern standards. The total cost for this firehouse will be more than $13 million, while more than $2 million from a capital reserve will be applied to the cost, in addition to bond. In addition, a sale of the current Station #1 property is planned, which would bring in revenue.
"It's the right vote," said commission chair Hala Makowska to reporters. She was excited after hearing the news of the vote. Looking forward at the rest of the process, she estimated that could be two years from now until move in for the new building.
Commissioner Alan Schapiro praised how the the process went, calling it transparent.
Millwood Fire Chief Michael Horan thanked residents for their support, and felt that it shows pride, in that the community stands by its volunteers.
The affirmation of the proposal is a marked contrast to contentious debate over the firehouse throughout the 2000s, a decade marked by a 2004 failed attempt of property from a lumber yard to build a 24,300 square-foot building, and the establishment of a capital fund, which contained tax money from previous years during that decade. The fund was decried by some residents for its role. There was also a larger proposed firehouse for the current site, but it was scapped amid opposition from some residents.
The site for the proposed firehouse was purchased in 2007, with a small piece being purchased to add onto it, bring the site to about nine acres in total. A previous proposal was made on that property for a 19,800-square foot firehouse, but it was dropped in 2009 when several of the current commissioners, including Makowska and Schapiro, took over. Local opposition to it was due to its size, concern about cost and environmental impact, Makowska said.
For our previous coverage of the proposed firehouse, click here.