The Parishville Fire Company’s Fire House sits on the banks of the St. Regis River making repairs to its septic system difficult. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

PARISHVILLE — The Parishville Fire Company will hold two community information sessions this month to show why it is in need of a new fire station.

The sessions are scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 9 and Oct. 16 at the Parishville Fire Station.

“We know there will be many questions from the community about this project. We are inviting all taxpayers and community members that reside within the Parishville Fire District to attend one (or both) of two community information sessions we are having in October,” said a press release from the fire commissioners of the Parishville Fire District. “We will offer a tour of the station to understand the challenges we are up against, and a preview of the new station’s drawings.”

The fire commissioners include Mel Sweeney, Jim Sullivan, Rich Snell, Jerry Hayes, Dave Taylor and secretary/treasurer Evan Harper. The fire chief is Ed Cool.

They said their architect budgeted the cost for a new fire station at about $2.5 million to $2.7 million, but they hope bids come in lower as they finalize the design. The fire company is applying for a low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, as well as grants.

“There are potential for other grants as well, but we cannot count on them at this stage,” they said.

With the projected cost, the owner of property assessed at $80,000 could see a yearly tax increase of approximately $55 to $65.

“Obviously the increase varies based on assessed value,” the fire commissioners said. “The current construction type allows us to push the term of the loan out to 30 years, helping minimize the impact to the taxpayers.”

A bond vote will be held during the fire commissioners annual election in December, allowing the community to decide if the project should move forward.

The fire commissioners say the new station is needed for the volunteers of the Parishville Fire Company, who donate their time to help others in the community during their greatest time of need. The volunteers donated approximately 7,700 combined hours to the community in 2018.

They said, while one ride to the hospital from some of their neighboring rescue squads might cost $500 or more, “potentially in excess of $1,500,” the Parishville Fire Company does not charge for its services. The volunteers also raise funds through the year — typically about $15,000 to $25,000 a year to help the district buy equipment and provide training, and to provide volunteers with additional resources to perform their jobs more efficiently.

“We need a new station so we can focus more of our efforts on training and performing emergency services,” they said.

There are also issues with the current station, which will be addressed during the community sessions. They include flooding in the ambulance bays throughout the year, deteriorating cement block walls, electrical issues, roofing issues, no handicap accessibility, no parking, failed storm drains, toilet/septic drainage issues, and no space for decontaminating fire gear and personnel.

The fire commissioners said there also is not enough room to properly park all of their apparatus, not enough room in the station to train without emptying the apparatus from the station, and potential asbestos/lead abatement issues.

“The septic system issues cannot be overcome due to the proximity to the St. Regis River. These issues make a renovation/expansion of the old station near impossible for our future use and not a financially responsible use of taxpayer (nor federal grant/loan) funds,” they said.

The new station, which would be located at the site of the old town barns on state Highway 72, would be large enough to house all of the fire, rescue, dive and ambulance apparatus. It would also provide ample parking and more room for training the volunteers. It would be equipped with a meeting/community room, small kitchen, oxygen and EMS storage areas, personnel decontamination area, turnout gear decontamination washer room, fire/dive gear drying rooms, radio room, chief’s office and district commissioner’s office.

“We kept the design simple in every possible way to minimize construction costs. We changed the roof design of the building already, and shrunk the size of the building to drop the potential cost,” the commissioners said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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