The new Millwood firehouse project took a major leap forward last week.
The New Castle Planning Board unanimously approved a resolution that paves the way for final approval on Sept. 4. The board was unable to officially grant site plan approval because of minor overflow parking issues that still need to be resolved.
Anthony Guardino, the lawyer for the Millwood Fire Company, said that issue would be ironed out by the time the board reconvenes in September. However, last week’s tentative approval allows the department to begin construction drawings, he said.
The new 18,000-square-foot firehouse will be built on Route 133, several hundred feet from the current facility that was constructed in 1924.
Town Planner Sabrina Charney Hull said there was a discrepancy between the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and the Final Environmental Impact Statement regarding which site will be used to accommodate overflow parking.
“This shouldn’t constrain us going forward,” assured Planning Board Chairman Richard Brownell.
Guardino said he was confident that the fire company will work with the board to develop an overflow parking plan that satisfies officials. He also mentioned that his client officially submitted a traffic signal plan, which was approved by the state Department of Transportation. The signal will be designed to give emergency vehicles an automatic green light when leaving the firehouse.
Before last week’s vote, Board of Fire Commissioners Chairwoman Hala Makowska implored the planning board to approve the project that has been 20 years in the making.
“This firehouse was built in 1924, when Calvin Coolidge was president,” Makowska said of the current facility. “We need a safe, functional building with a professional working environment that demonstrates pride in our firefighters and keeps the department volunteer. Our goal is to be a good neighbor by minimizing impacts. The site plan approval is the last hurdle we have.”
Members of the public also expressed their support for a new Millwood firehouse.
“I enthusiastically support this,” said West End resident Sara Brewster. “We need a new firehouse. We are all very excited about the prospect of a new building.”
Planning board members said they support the project before casting their vote.
“There is no doubt that we are going to approve this project,” said board member Tom Curley. “This strategy sounds like a great one to me.”
After approving the vote, fire company officials saluted the board.
“This is the assurance that we need,” Makowska said. “We are very grateful.”
Groundbreaking will likely be scheduled for next spring.