County open to letting firefighters have land

New Windsor company wants new firehouse

April 30, 1999|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

The New Windsor Fire Company saw a spark of hope last night for a new firehouse, when school and county officials agreed to explore the possibility of relinquishing land the firefighters have had their eyes on for more than a decade.

Members of the all-volunteer fire company want the county to give or sell them about 6 acres adjacent to the old New Windsor Middle School, which closed last spring, for a new firehouse and meeting hall.

The officials seemed sympathetic to the company's need for more space, though they said their decision hinged on several others, primarily the selection of a new site for the school system's alternative Gateway program and county library headquarters, which have been considered for the former middle school.

"The property has no value for us if that other issue -- where to put the Gateway program -- is resolved," said county schools Superintendent William H. Hyde. "The board has no reason not to declare it surplus."

The school system, however, would have to get permission from state school Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick and the state Board of Public Works to give up the property. Then it could be returned to the commissioners, who in turn could sell it -- for as little as $1 -- to New Windsor.

"It's a start," said Bill Kreimer, past president of the fire company and a member for 38 years. "Anything's better than what we got now, which is nothing."

The firehouse on Main Street, built in 1954 and expanded over the years, is nearly too small for the company's modern equipment.

"It comes down not to whether they are going to move, but where," said Mayor Jack A. Gullo, who invited school board members to meet with the commissioners during their annual visit to New Windsor.

Without this property, the fire company "will have to build out of town," meaning it will take longer for the firefighters to answer calls, Gullo said.

New Windsor has no paid fire department personnel.

At one time, the town had hoped to convert the old school -- now used for storage -- into a community center, but renovation costs estimated at about $2 million killed that plan.

Now, the town simply wants the adjacent "grassy area" for the fire company.

Though no date was set for deciding the future of the school and property, officials indicated that they would decide within six months or a year.

Gullo called the meeting "quite a success. We should have done it years ago," he said.

Pub Date: 4/30/99

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