Wading River Fire District residents will go to the polls Tuesday, Dec. 13, to decide the fate of a capital bond proposal for up to $6.8 million for improvements to the fire headquarters on North Country Road and the Hulse Landing Road fire substation.
The district says that over 25 years, the average tax increase resulting from the bond, if approved, will be about $85 per year in Brookhaven Town and about $69 per year in Riverhead Town for owners of properties of “average assessed value.” (The average assessed value in the Riverhead portion of the district is about a $360,000 market value, according to town records.)
Voting will take place from 2 to 9 p.m. at North Country Road fire headquarters. The bond vote will be on the same ballot as the annual fire commissioner elections.
The bond proposal calls for improvements at both the North Country Road headquarters and “Station 2” on Hulse Landing Road aimed at meeting codes, making repairs and replacing old and inefficient equipment.
The proposal also calls for a new pre-engineered metal structure next to the existing Hulse Landing building that measures 5,000 square feet and has three bays for vehicle and equipment storage.
“The bond addresses the core structural, safety and building integrity challenges plaguing the headquarters and station 2 firehouses,” a district mailer on the bond issue states.
“This proposal, which totals $6.8 million, seeks to bring both spaces up to current Americans with Disabilities Act, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and National Fire Protection Association regulations while also expanding them to property house current day fire apparatuses and to modify critical building systems.”
The bond does not call for any expansion of the North Country Road building, according to district manager Greg Michalakopoulos.
Plans for that building include a new natural gas heating system to replace its current outdated and inefficient 27-year-old heating system and abandoning underground tanks associating with that system.
In addition, a failing retaining wall on the property would be replaced, the interior floor plan would be reconfigured to maximize space, the parking lot would be repaired; exterior masonry would be enhanced for safety; the building would be brought up to ADA standards; new gas and diesel fueling stations would be installed; a mezzanine would be built in the apparatus room to increase space; and the radio communications console would be upgraded.
Mr. Michalakopoulos said a mistake on the flier indicated that a new radio tower would also be erected at the site.
As for the Hulse Landing location, in addition to the new building, the proposal calls for replacing the front driveway, replacing and upgrading septic systems, replacing emergency generators, installing a new radio communications tower, renovating the interior and updating the facility to meet ADA compliance guidelines.
In 2012, the Wading River Fire District proposed to demolish the Hulse Landing facility, which was built in 1982, and replace it with an 11,485-square-foot structure.
A $4.75 million capital bond authorization for that project was rejected by voters in December 2012.
Following that vote, the district hired outside engineering consultant H2M to assess the condition of both the Hulse Landing building and the main firehouse.
“That’s when we discovered the deficiencies in the headquarters,” Mr. Michalakopoulos said.
In the wake of H2M’s report, he said, the district put together a steering committee in 2015, comprising members of the public, the fire department and the fire district, to figure out the next step, he said.
“They made a list of the wants versus the needs, and the wants were eliminated,” Mr. Michalakopoulos said. “That’s where it derived from there.”