Chappaqua Voters To Decide On Fire District's Land Purchase

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- More than three months after voters rejected a proposal to expand the Bedford Road Firehouse in Chappaqua, they will decide whether to approve purchasing an adjacent property for a similar scenario.

The Bedford Road Firehouse in Chappaqua.
The Bedford Road Firehouse in Chappaqua. Photo Credit: File

The Tuesday vote will entail granting permission for New Castle Fire District, No. 1, the entity that governs the Chappaqua Fire Department, to borrow $2,674,644 for the acquisition of the Chappaqua Animal Hospital property and the building's subsequent demolition. More than half of the cost, $1,620,000, is for acquiring the property, while the balance is for site work.

The animal hospital is located at 495 King St.

Projections show that with interest payments factored in, the bond would cost $3,843,722 over a 22-year period, with a 3.4-percent rate assumed. However, the fire district intends to divert $200,000 annually in building-reserve funding to paying off the debt, which will bring taxpayers' net cost down to $556,278 over the period.

The rejected expansion vote also included a ballot proposition to acquire the same property, which is necessary for a firehouse addition. It was also voted down, although by a much slimmer margin than the expansion referendum's defeat. 

The referendum date was set by the district's outgoing Board of Fire Commissioners at a lame-duck meeting on late December. The current board, which includes new members John Buckley and Danna Schoenberg, has proceeded with the referendum. 

At a public information session last week hosted by the board, the site's location in the fire district and lack of viable alternatives were cited as factors in going ahead with the purchase. The board has also ruled out keeping the animal hospital building intact due to its structural condition and the cost of maintenance. 

The board has no timetable on whether to pursue another expansion, according to Buckley, who is also the board's chair. Using the animal hospital site as a parking lot for firefighters was floated as a temporary proposal.

The fire district is in contract to buy the property from its ownership; Schoenberg said that the deal expires on Feb. 14.

Voting will take place from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. - the previous referendum, which only went from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., was blasted by residents for its three-hour window - and will be held at the firehouse.

Only residents who reside in the fire district are eligible to vote. The district covers the southern and central parts of the town of New Castle.

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