Plans for a smaller scale, less expensive Central Fire Station in downtown Peekskill were discussed during a special meeting last week.
Mayor Frank Catalina said his goal was to reduce the cost of the controversial station at the intersection of Main and Broad streets from an estimated $15.7 million to $8 to $10 million. He also mentioned striving to break ground sometime this summer.
“We want a firehouse. We want to build a firehouse. The question is giving the firefighters what they need to do the job and balance that on what the cost is to the taxpayers,” he said.
Architect Bob Mitchell talked about a tentative revised design for the two-story firehouse that would decrease its square footage from 36,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet by eliminating a wing of the building that would also eliminate the need to acquire most of the stores in Crossroads Plaza, other than Panio Wines and Liquors.
He suggested a large meeting room that was planned to hold up to 300 people could be moved to the firehouse on Washington Street with a 1,200-square-foot extension that would cost approximately $300,000.
“In my mind this would be a middle ground,” Mitchell said. “It would be a whole new approach.”
The building of a Central Fire Station is intended to replace five existing city firehouses. The firehouse on Washington Street would serve as a substation.
“The disrepair and unhealthy environment in the current firehouses is just deplorable,” former Councilwoman Marybeth McGowan remarked. “It’s an embarrassment in this city to have those firehouses.”
McGowan, who lost her bid for reelection last November, charged the current administration was delaying the project by considering different schemes, but Catalina insisted “this will be resolved this year.”
Five other sites were considered for the Central Fire Station when the project first surfaced about eight years ago, and the former White Plains Linen building on Highland Avenue was pondered briefly by Catalina, but the Common Council appears satisfied with the Main and Broad streets location.
“We’re pretty much sold on the site and the redesign,” said Councilman Vincent Vesce.
Councilwoman Kathleen Talbot said she was hopeful of finally getting the project off the ground.
“I hope this is the beginning of getting this show on the road. It’s been a long time coming,” she said. “I don’t want to be penny-wise and pound foolish to do this.”
The city has already purchased properties at 1137 and 1141 Main Street to make room for the firehouse. If the city would bond for the $15.7 million price tag over 30 years, it would cost taxpayers $925,000 annually.
“The new firehouse is something that we need,” said John Pappas, a 40-year firefighter. “A firehouse is meant to be a social hub of the community. It’s time it gets done.”