Loans to fire companies given preliminary OK

Renovations, expansions, new firehouse planned

April 28, 2004|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County commissioners gave preliminary approval yesterday to $5.35 million in loan requests from New Windsor Fire and Hose Company No. 1, Winfield Community Volunteer Fire Department and Gamber and Community Fire Company to replace, expand or renovate their firehouses.

The fire department serving the New Windsor area, which asked for a loan of up to $3 million, will break ground for a 27,000-square-foot firehouse in June, said Neal Roop, chairman of the company's communications committee for the capital campaign project.

The current New Windsor fire station on High Street is at least 50 years old and lacks office space and parking, Roop said. It has two bays for engines, so other pieces of equipment and apparatus have been stored in the basement, Roop said.

The new firehouse will be at the back of the property at the vacant New Windsor Middle School, off Route 75. The $4.2 million project, which is to be completed next year, will include eight bays, a banquet hall, offices and kitchens.

"The fire company and the fire hall are kind of the heart and soul of the community," Roop said. "This is going to enhance the opportunities for couples to have wedding receptions, families to have reunions and more organizations to have fund-raisers."

The New Windsor fire company has begun efforts to raise the $1.2 million it will need beyond the county loan, including a carnival scheduled for June.

The Winfield fire company plans to use its $2 million loan to expand its firehouse on Old Liberty Road in South Carroll, said county Comptroller Gene Curfman. The fire company also wants to replace the firehouse's roof and complete major renovations inside and outside the building, Curfman said.

No plans have been approved, said fire company spokesman Scott Legore. The fire company is working with an architect to start developing sketches of its renovation project, he said.

With its $350,000 loan, the Gamber fire company plans to expand its social hall at the firehouse on Route 32, said spokesman Clay Myers.

The expansion plan calls for a larger hall with a stage, a small conference room to hold 100 people and additional bathrooms and storage areas, Myers said. The project is expected to begin in late summer.

"We're renting the hall out to organizations more frequently, so this will help for that business," Myers said.

Two years ago, the county was given authority to issue bonds of up to $7 million for the volunteer fire companies, Curfman said. The latest requests, combined with previous requests, exceed the bond amount by $231,000, but the county can issue bonds that have not been used to cover the difference, he said.

The loans will be given final approval once the fire companies complete their loan applications.

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