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Columbia County to buy Gerald Simons Commerce Park property for fire training facility

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    The building at 50 Grandinetti Drive in the Gerald R. Simons Commerce Park. The Columbia County Board of Supervisors reached a purchase agreement with Almstead Realty Company, Inc. to buy 9.7 acres, with the two-story, 1,100-square-foot building for $840,000. The county wants it to be the new home for a fire training facility and a place to store emergency vehicles and equipment.
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    The building at 50 Grandinetti Drive in the Gerald R. Simons Commerce Park.
July 20, 2017 11:20 pm Updated: July 25, 2017 01:56 pm

GHENT — The County Board of Supervisors came to an agreement to buy property for $840,000 in the Gerald R. Simons Commerce Park where the county will create a firefighter training center and a central location for emergency vehicles and equipment.

The county negotiated a purchase agreement with Almstead Realty Company Inc. to buy 9.7 acres, with a two-story, 10,00-square-foot building, at 50 Grandinetti Drive for $840,000, which is less than the original asking price of $935,000.

The full market value of the property is $438,300, according to Columbia County property records.

“Our lawyers are working on closing, hopefully within the next 30 days,” said Stuyvesant Town Supervisor Ronald Knott. “We’re making plans for the property. Purchasing the land is the big step; the rest will take some time.”

The property will be used for emergency management purposes including a training facility for firefighters and emergency technicians, a centralized location to store equipment and vehicles, and office space for the county fire coordinator.

“This has been a long time coming,” said County Fire Coordinator William Hunt. “I have been fire coordinator since 1990 and the idea of getting a new training center has been kicked around since then.”

The last facility the county owned was the training tower on the Pine Haven Nursing and Rehabilitation Center property, which the county sold some years ago.

“It was understood at the time that we would look for a new location for a training center,” Knott said. “This property is good because it is surrounded by other county-owned properties, so it is less likely neighbors will complain if firefighters are practicing putting out a fire.”

Besides a training facility, the county plans to store vehicles such as the Hazmat truck and an EMS truck as well as equipment, all of which is housed in different locations across the county, in the new facility.

“We will also build classrooms in it,” Knott said. “All fire districts will have access to the center.”

Hunt said the building is ideal for its size and location.

“It is central to the county and is large enough to house our vehicles and equipment,” he said. “What we have now, with everything spread out, is not conducive to quick response times and makes it difficult to maintain equipment.”

Knott said the construction on the building could cost around $750,000 with the tower that will be used for practical training with smoke and controlled burns costing the most money.

“We budgeted about $1 million for this last year. We will use that difference to build the facility. We are also looking into grants we could apply for,” Knott said. “Our facilities crew might be able to handle the work. We might get some volunteers from local fire agencies as well.”

He said after engineers make plans for the property, it will become more apparent if the county has to contract the work out.

“This is a great thing,” Hunt said. “I am glad the county officials see the necessity of a facility like this.”

*Editor's note: This story corrects an earlier version that misstated the size of the building the county and Almstead Realty Company Inc. negotiated a purchase agreement about.