The Examiner

Chappaqua Firehouse Expansion Referendum Soundly Defeated

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By Andrew Vitelli

Voters waited in line for more than an hour in some cases Tuesday night on the New Castle Fire District No. 1 firehouse expansion.
Voters waited in line Tuesday night for more than an hour in some cases to cast their ballot on the New Castle Fire District No. 1 firehouse expansion referendum.

A referendum for a proposed $15.3 million firehouse expansion for New Castle Fire District No. 1 was resoundingly defeated Tuesday night as hour-long lines frustrated voters, leading many to leave without casting their ballots.

Proposition 1 to borrow up to $2,674,644 to buy the former Chappaqua Animal Hospital property adjacent to the firehouse at 491 King St. fell short by a 420-302 margin. The more controversial Proposition 2, which proposed to spend as much as $12,703,335 for construction of the roughly 16,500-square-foot addition, was shot down overwhelmingly, 632-105.

Polls were open for only three hours Tuesday night, and a line had formed by the time voting began at 6 p.m. The firehouse, where voting was held, was still packed at 9 p.m., with voters arriving just before closing time told they’d have to wait in line for an hour to vote, causing many to leave. By about 10:15 p.m., all votes had been cast.

Christopher Weddle, chairman of the board of fire commissioners, had little reaction after the results were announced just after midnight, saying the propositions clearly lost. Of more immediate concern is that with the defeat of Proposition 1, the contract on the adjacent property will expire and is likely to go to another buyer, he said.

Fire district representatives had said that the original firehouse at the corner of Route 117, built in 1954 and expanded in 1979, is antiquated and unable to handle modern fire trucks.

“I think that it’s good for the town, and the town needs improvements,” said one voter. “And this is a good place to put it.”

Others thought it was too expensive. Fire district resident Will Fahey, who left before voting after learning there was at least a one-hour wait at 9 p.m., said he had planned to vote against the project.

“I support the firefighters, but I don’t understand how this proposal got to this point,” he said while waiting in line. “It seems very extravagant. Just a blatant misuse of taxes.”

On Tuesday night most of the complaints were about how difficult it was to vote.

“This process is an abomination,” one man said, after leaving the polls without casting a ballot after waiting in line for 45 minutes.




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