Meeting on controversial Petrova project rescheduled

Meeting moved to H’town town hall at 6 p.m.

SARANAC LAKE — The village has changed the time and location of this coming Tuesday informational meeting on the proposed new emergency services building. The meeting is now scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Harrietstown Town Hall Auditorium.

There will also be open houses at the police, fire and rescue stations from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Members of the public can walk into the police station, firehall and rescue garage to see the spaces and the conditions they’re in before speaking with the village board and architects about plans to build a new combined police, fire and rescue facility at the former St. Pius X High School building on Petrova Avenue.

The informational meeting was originally to be held at the SLVFD firehall but board members suggested changing it on Monday over concerns that the room would not be big enough to fit everyone safely.

These events are a chance for village residents to tour the existing facilities, speak with representatives from the architecture firm Wendel Five Bugels Design and ask questions of the village board. The village’s proposal to build a combined facility for the three emergency services departments on Petrova Avenue has been controversial.

In January, the village announced plans to land on Petrova Avenue from the nonprofit organization Citizen Advocates to build a new combined police, fire and rescue facility at. The land includes the former St. Pius X High School building and Hhott House Greenhouse. The village has not yet closed on the purchase of the property.

The land has been subdivided, with around 15 acres for the village and around 5 staying with Citizen Advocates. Citizen Advocates will retain the outpatient mental health and addiction clinic, transportation facility and adult supportive services building at the site.

The village has an agreement to purchase the 15 acres of the Petrova Avenue property from Citizen Advocates for $350,000. According to the Franklin County tax map, the total 20-acre property was assessed at a value of $5,568,500 in 2022 and a full market value of $6,629,167.

Redeveloping the former high school property into a nearly 69,000 square foot public safety facility is estimated to cost $20 million.

This proposal has been controversial for a number of reasons. In public meetings and letters to the editor in the Enterprise, neighbors of the property where the new building is proposed have expressed concern about noise, traffic and character changes to their neighborhood.

Some are concerned about moving emergency service hubs from the heart of town, to a secluded building up a hill and away from the downtown district. They say this makes it more difficult for people to get to the stations without a car.

Some people are also concerned about the possible environmental impact of the project. The land contains federally protected wetlands and the village would need to build a new access road on the property for its emergency vehicles.

Village officials say the feasibility studies they’ve commissioned show expanding the emergency departments’ current locations to fit all three is not feasible.

Village board members have said that purchasing the Petrova Avenue property does not guarantee the emergency services building will be built there. In any case, they said buying the property was a great deal for the village, no matter how it is used. They are pursuing it as a location for the building.

Opponents of the building at that location feel the village is pushing this plan through without public input. They have told the village of their concerns at village board meetings, but this is their first time to have a dedicated informational session with a back-and-forth Q&A.

The Hhott House greenhouse was formerly owned and operated by Citizen Advocates, but after this sale put the garden store in limbo, local investor Todd Hoffnagle of Lake Clear put up the money to buy the business and keep it running. The village is working out a lease agreement with Hoffnagle to continue to use the greehouse buildings through the rest of the year.

The village board will also discuss the project at its Monday meeting at 5:30 p.m.


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