KEENE - This community's fire station, destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene last year, will be rebuilt on higher ground starting in August, and private, tax-deductible donations are necessary to close the funding gap.
Since the Aug. 28, 2011 storm, the Keene Volunteer Fire Department has housed its equipment, four fire trucks and one ambulance at temporary sites in an attempt to maintain the same level of emergency readiness. The new site of the all-volunteer department is the Mountain Manor property, across from Stewart's Shop on state Route 73.
Sean Foran, project manager at Hueber Breuer, a Syracuse-based construction management firm, has served as project consultant since October 2011 and has provided a range of services, from site selection and financing to construction management.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, new emergency facilities are classified as "essential facilities," which must be built to be the last structures standing after a disaster. Fire officials said these requirements have added to construction costs.
The Keene Volunteer Fire Department provides fire and rescue services. Keene requires two fire houses that work together for rapid response to emergencies, according to a press release issued by Keene fire officials. The town of Keene, which covers 156 square miles, is divided into two fire districts. Keene Fire Department District 1 covers the entire town of Keene and also responds to calls in Upper Jay, Jay, AuSable Forks, Lake Placid, Wilmington, Elizabethtown and New Russia. Keene Valley Fire Department District 2 also responds to the neighboring districts.
While most of the 450 households lie within 5 miles of the center of town, there are settlements at the extreme ends of the town's boundaries, including those high on the hillsides. The community needs two fire stations in the event of emergency weather situations like flooding because Keene and Keene Valley can be cut off from each other by high waters. Emergency response time would be inadequate if the area were served by a single fire station, officials said.
Ppurchasing new land, demolishing existing structures and building the new station in compliance with emergency structure codes will cost a maximum of $2.3 million. The town has received a grant notification of $680,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as an insurance settlement of $635,000. On April 24, voters approved a $500,000 bond for the project, which will be paid back over the course of 20 years and is structured not to increase local taxes. Those three sources of funding total about $1.8 million, meaning another $500,000 will have to be raised through private donations.
"The generous donors to (the) Keene Flood Recovery Fund at the Adirondack Community Trust supported the rebuilding of our homes and businesses," Keene Fire Commissioner Alan Carey said in a press release. "With deep gratitude, we must again ask for help, this time for the first responders who protect us all."
Keene residents Tom Both, Dave Deyo and Pat Hickey have agreed to lead the private fundraising effort, and more than $100,000 has already been contributed toward the new firehouse. This has helped get the project started.
The Keene Volunteer Fire Department has established a fund with the Adirondack Community Trust to administer gifts for the new firehouse. To make a tax-deductible gift, send a check payable to the Keene Fire Department Fund to ACT at P.O. Box 288, Lake Placid, NY 12946, or contact Executive Director Cali Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org.