TUPPER LAKE - During the first half-hour of voting today, around 100 people filed through the basement of the Goff-Nelson Memorial Library to weigh in on a new fire and police station.
Fire Chief Carl Steffen said just after the polls opened at noon that he was both anxious and hopeful as voters started to pour in.
"We've made phone calls and we've gone out into the community door to door to talk to people," Steffen said. "If we go by what they told us door-to-door, it's favorable for the referendum."
The department posted a reminder on its Facebook page and has been putting out periodic calls over its radio system to remind people to vote. Volunteers are also offering rides to the polls for anyone who needs them; Steffen said to call the village offices at 359-3341 before 4 p.m. and the fire hall at 359-2543 after 4 p.m. for a ride.
Steffen said around 12:30 p.m. that he planned to hang out around the library until the polls close at 9 p.m. He was standing inside the voting area until a voter complained. Steffen then moved outside the library, saying he wanted to be available if anyone had questions about the project.
"I'm not trying to influence their vote," he said.
People who are registered in the village are able to vote in the referendum. Poll workers there have a book full of the names of registered voters, put together for the village in April by the Franklin County Board of Elections. Anyone who is not listed in the book but is a village resident is being allowed to cast a provisional ballot: They vote on a ballot and put it in a sealed envelope. If the referendum is close, those ballots will be checked Wednesday, but they don't be counted if it's a landslide one way or the other, said village Clerk Mary Casagrain.
The public is voting on whether the village should borrow $3.2 million to build a new $4.5 million building for the fire and police departments. Some say the plans include too much space and the building is too expensive for Tupper Lake's taxpayers to handle right now, while others argue that building costs are down and now is a good time to build. The only thing everyone can agree on is that both the fire and police departments' current facilities are too small, unsafe and not accessible to people with disabilities.