Sag Harbor FD Awarded State Grant to Expand Firehouse
By Kathryn G. Menu
The Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $250,000 state grant to expand and upgrade its Brick Kiln Road firehouse, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. confirmed Wednesday afternoon.
The project was nominated for state funding by Mr. Thiele, who aided Sag Harbor Trustee Robby Stein, former Sag Harbor Fire Department Chief Thomas Gardella and consultant Steven Weitz in developing the grant proposal. On Wednesday, Mr. Thiele said the grant is still moving through the state grants process, but called it “a done deal.”
According to Mr. Stein, the expansion of the firehouse will largely allow it to upgrade its kitchen facility, used by the department, but also local community groups like the Boy Scouts for fundraisers and gatherings. The grant will also enable the department to replace its flooring.
“It’s been on our ‘to-do’ list,” Mr. Stein said on Wednesday. “Fred and I began to talk about this about a year ago, and began to drill down on it with Chief Gardella and get some rough estimates for what would be required. We received the paperwork this week that it was successful.”
“This is an example of how supportive our legislator is of the fire department, of what their home means to them and how much they do for the community,” Mr. Stein added.
The Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees passed a resolution Tuesday night to advertise a request for proposal for cell tower equipment, as the village explores the potential of installing towers as a means of improving public safety, and creating a new revenue source, according to Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Austin J. McGuire.
Chief McGuire on Wednesday said he has been exploring this idea — along with upgrades to communications systems throughout the village — since he was first hired as the interim police chief 18 months ago. He said the main issue with the current system is public safety, but that if ultimately approved cell towers could also provide a source of revenue for the village.
“We are investigating a few sites inside and outside the village,” he said on Wednesday. “We want to see what is viable.”
According to Chief McGuire, not having strong cell service in the village has proved challenging when trying to upgrade emergency service communications — and as police officers work in the field. When Sag Harbor Police Officer Randy Steyert discovered the fire behind Main Street in the early morning hours of December 16, his call to dispatch was accidentally picked up by Southampton Town, rather than East Hampton, which the Village of Sag Harbor contracts with, because of the poor cell reception on Main Street, said Chief McGuire.
“That was a very slow day, on a very quiet morning, and it is just what happened,” said Chief McGuire. “Southampton transferred the call, but they had to follow their own protocol first, which means a delay.”
In other village news, Mr. Stein on Tuesday announced that the village was earnestly pursuing over $1.5 million in county and state grants to support the renovation and restoration of Long Wharf, which will cost a minimum of $3 million, according to Mr. Stein. During Tuesday night’s meeting, Mr. Stein said the village is pursuing $1.5 million in funding from New York State and $725,000 in county grants, which have not yet been awarded. Mr. Stein said he worked with village administrator Beth Kamper and grant writer Nicole Christian on their applications for the past year.
According to Mr. Thiele, whether or not the project receives the funding won’t likely be announced until September or October.
“I am optimistic they will get a grant,” he said on Wednesday. “Potential sources of funding are through the regional economic development councils, and we just don’t have anything definitive yet.”
Mr. Stein said that the grant application for Long Wharf outlines overall maintenance of the facility — including remediation of its pylons and facing — bringing electricity and water down the Wharf for boaters, and creating a safe, lighted walkway for pedestrians. Filtration is also proposed to ensure runoff coming off the Wharf and through its water systems do not harm the bay, said Mr. Stein.