Millwood Celebrates Groundbreaking for New Firehouse
More than 20 years after identifying the need for a new firehouse, the Millwood Fire District broke ground Sunday on its new state-of-the-art facility on Route 133.
The triumphant ceremonial event was attended by dignitaries, fire district officials and many of the volunteers from Millwood Fire Company No. 1, and stood in stark contrast to two decades of frustration that saw attempts to replace the antiquated structure consistently hit roadblocks.
“We’ve done our best now in the process of studying this new firehouse to make sure we’re building a building that’s going to stand the test of time, that has a minimal lifespan of 50 years and hopefully will serve the district beyond that point,” said Millwood Fire District Commissioner Hala Makowska.
District voters approved a $9.95 million referendum in April 2011 by a nearly 3-to-1 margin to help fund and construct the 18,000-square-foot facility about 500 feet east of the current firehouse. The existing firehouse was built in 1924 and cannot properly house much of the modern equipment despite two additions made to the building over the years.
The actual groundbreaking and prepping of the site has already begun. Construction is expected to take 12 to 18 months, said Fire Chief Greg Santone.
During a 40-minute ceremony at the new site at 60 Millwood Road, Alan Schapiro, another district commissioner, vowed that the district will deliver the project on time and on budget. While the district is borrowing up to $9.95 million, total costs will approach $14 million. However, the district has been setting money aside from current taxes every year since 2002 to help defray the cost and buy the nine-acre parcel for $2 million.
Schapiro said a 1990 report first stated that the existing firehouse was outdated and needed to be replaced. The nearly 90-year-old firehouse is about half the size of what will be the fire company’s new home.
“It’s 23 years later. We stand on the site where we (break ground) for this state-of-the-art facility that respects taxpayer dollars, the surrounding neighbors and, most importantly, our brilliant volunteer firefighters,” he said.
County Executive Rob Astorino, who attended the ceremony which was scheduled to coincide with the traditional day for fire department open houses, applauded the efforts of the district’s leaders and firefighters for its determination.
Although the old firehouse is the only home the company has known, Astorino said it was time for change. The district built a satellite station on Route 134 to serve the district’s west end in 1981. That facility houses a tanker and an engine.
“Thank you for doing what you do, and hopefully the new generation of firefighters who will come in through these doors hold onto the memories and make new ones,” Astorino said.
Despite many contentious discussions concerning costs, the environment and impact on neighbors, the district and the community moving forward has been long overdue, said John Cullen, the county’s emergency services commissioner.
“I can’t think of a better example of a community coming together for the people of the hamlet,” Cullen said. “In my opinion we should nickname this building the People’s Firehouse.”
The new firehouse will have five bays, a radio room, a ready room, five offices, a kitchen, an exercise room, a membership room and a multipurpose space that can hold gatherings.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/