Chatham firefighters offer $50K toward pumper tab

CHATHAM–John Howe, speaking for the village Fire Department, told the Village Board last week that the two fire companies in the village will contribute $50,000 of the cost of a new fire truck. He said the fire companies could offer $5,000 annually from their budgets to help to help pay for a new pumper that could cost the village over $400,000.

A slightly used truck that was for sale for $419,000 happened to be at the firehouse last Thursday night and Mr. Howe asked that it come to the Tracy Memorial/Village Hall during the meeting for the board to see. Mr. Howe said this particular truck came equipped with almost everything the department was looking for in a replacement truck. “The kicker is, it was sold,” he said.

Mr. Howe said he was not trying to put pressure on the board, but he said the department needs to know how much the board plans to spend on a truck.

The board and representatives from the fire department have been discussing a new truck for eight months. Originally it looked like a truck would cost close to $500,000, but at the July 14 meeting, Mr. Howe said that it would most likely be in $419,000 range. Last month the village held a meeting at the firehouse to discuss the truck purchase.

A replacement is needed because the Fire Department’s older pumper truck was in such bad shape that last spring the department had to take the truck out of service.

“At some point soon we’re going to have to pull the trigger,” Mr. Howe said.

Mayor Tom Curran thanked members of the Fire Department for their work and said that the offer to help pay off the debt that the village will take on to buy the truck “really means a lot.”

Victor Cornelius, the board’s grant writer for the Tracy Memorial Village Hall upgrade project, was also at the meeting and suggested the village look into money from the state Assembly that is available for fire equipment. He also said the state offers no-interest loans for purchases like this. He said he would be willing to look into the options for the village and gather some information on funding.

Mr. Cornelius talked more later in the meeting about state grants he is working on for the Tracy Memorial. The board is looking into the grants for roof repair and drainage work on the historic building. “It’s a good time for funding streams,” he said of the grants.

The one project that won’t happen in the Tracy any time soon is a lift to the second floor. The Town of Chatham uses the second floor meeting room for court and received a grant from the state to put in a lift to meet American’s With Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. Unfortunately, Mayor Curran said, the architect the board is working with said that the plans from the one company that bid on the lift project would have to make too many changes to the historic building and that the plans were not ADA compliant.

“I think we have to turn it down,” Mayor Curran said of the grant. “Everybody put a lot of work into this,” he said. The board hopes to find future grants to add a new fire escape and elevator to the Tracy.

Also at the July 14 meeting:

• The board approved having a secure needle drop box in the bathrooms in the Tracy Memorial so that anyone in the village can safely dispose of syringes. “It’s just a safe box to put your needles in,” said Police Chief Peter Volkmann at the meeting. The police will dispose of needles without any questions asked. The board also appointed Aimee Richards to be the Police Department social worker. Chief Volkmann said she would do the work pro-bono and “provide confidential referrals service to officers and their families.”

• Chief Volkmann said that the Chatham Cares 4 U program to help area residents dealing with opioid addiction get treatment, is up and running. “Our services have already been utilized,” he said in his report to the board.

The Police Department is still looking for volunteers to help with program

• Village Clerk Barbara Henry said that the new garbage hauler had started in the village in early July. She said that the new company uses one truck, so recycling and garbage cans have to be out by 7 a.m. on Wednesdays. She said that the company has been working with the clerk’s office when there are issues. “They are interested in getting it right,” she said

• The board approved bidding on paving Woodbridge Avenue. The village DPW is replacing the water main on the street. The board has also asked for bids on repairs to curbing and sidewalks on the west side of the street

• The board held a workshop meeting about rates in the village, including water and sewer rates, fees and fines for the Planning and Zoning boards, trash-bag stickers and fines for restaurants not cleaning out the grease traps, releasing waste that blocks the sewer. The board reviewed the current numbers and the suggested new fees for the clerks. They also compared Chatham’s fees to those charged by Valatie and Philmont. The board will host another workshop about fees and has not yet updated or otherwise changed any amounts or rates.

The next meeting is a workshop session Thursday, July 28 at 7 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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