Stefanik tours Saranac Lake firehouse as village seeks grant funding
SARANAC LAKE — U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik was at the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department firehouse Monday to tour the facility and talk about getting federal money for a new emergency services building the village is planning.
Assemblyman Billy Jones’ office also sent a representative to tour the building.
Mayor Jimmy Williams said it was exciting to have attention from high levels of state and federal government on the building and village’s planned rebuild.
“I did hear both of them say it’s obvious that the need is real,” Williams said.
The village is seeking state and federal money and grants for the project, and he hopes having lawmakers see that the floor is falling apart, see the tight space firetrucks are crammed into and the outdated infrastructure they’re working with will solidify the need in their minds.
Trustee Matt Scollin used to work for Stefanik’s office, Williams pointed out, so he has close contact with her staff.
Stefanik said she promised SLVFD Chief Brendan Keough that she would visit the station and talk about federal funding when she saw him at the Winter Carnival parade in February.
“Our North Country firefighters selflessly answer the call to serve day or night,” Stefanik wrote in a statement. “As the department grows to meet the needs of the Saranac Lake community, I am proud to advocate for these frontline workers to have the funding they need to effectively protect our communities and the equipment to keep themselves safe.”
“It was a privilege to host Congresswoman Stefanik,” Keough said in a statement. “We appreciate her advocacy, so we can continue the work of the fire department to provide for the safety and welfare of our community.”
Williams said they didn’t have time to tour the Saranac Lake police and rescue stations, but he said Stefanik plans to return at some point to see those buildings. Jones has previously toured the police station on other trips to town.
“I’ve seen firsthand the deteriorating conditions of the police station and the need for improved facilities,” Jones said in a statement. “My office also recently toured the fire station which only further supported the need for a new facility. I will do whatever I can to help with improving the public safety facilities to help make sure that the police department and fire department have the resources they need to protect the Saranac Lake community.”
The heads of the village’s three emergency service departments — SLVFD, Saranac Lake Police and the Saranac Lake Volunteer Rescue Squad — have met three times now, Williams said. He said they are all positive about sharing a building, consolidating their departments into one central location.
In March, the village approved the $165,000 purchase of a 0.40 acre parcel of land behind the fire station as a location for the planned emergency services building and put $2.5 million into a reserve fund to be used on the possible building.
Williams said the village needs to interview engineers and consulting firms, put together engineering plans and use those plans to ask the state and federal government for money. He said it will take a couple months to get all that done.
Williams said he plans to send some village staff to an emergency services building conference in the near future.
The Enterprise was not notified about Stefanik’s plans for a tour at the SLVFD station, 600 feet away from the Enterprise office. Stefanik’s office declined to answer a question about why media were not told of her visit beforehand.