Village plans to move firehouse out of flood zone

The Village of Hunter firehouse is set to be relocated after the village received a $1.9 million state grant.

HUNTER — With its existing firehouse vulnerable to even moderate amounts of flooding, the Village of Hunter has received a $1.97 million state grant to relocate its firehouse.

As part of a statewide initiative, the sate Department of Environmental Conservation awarded $11 million in grants this week as part of the Climate Smart Communities Grant program.

The Hunter project was the only undertaking in Greene County to receive money in this round of state funding.

“We’ve needed a new firehouse for decades,” Hunter Village Mayor Alan Higgins said Wednesday. “Since we did the local flood analysis, some things were identified in the village that would be helpful with our flood zones. One of them was to replace the bridge on Bridge Street and we see that as a real major need for the village as well.”

The state award is a 50% matching grant which will cover half of the tentative cost of the $3.8 million firehouse project.

Higgins said the site the village was originally looking at for the new firehouse fell through, but the village will move on to other potential locations as the grant is not specifically tied to the first site.

“The property that we were looking at that’s in the grant has since pulled out of that deal,” Higgins said. “So we’re actively searching for a property now. It’s just a little wrench in the gears. We needed to move that firehouse so we applied for that grant and it’s amazing that we got it. It’s a competitive grant, so there were no guarantees there.”

With the county handling the Bridge Street bridge replacement project, Higgins said that ideally, the firehouse project would have broken ground in the spring with an estimated completion date of five years for both projects.

“We were really hopeful when we first started talking about this, we were looking at a five-year plan for the relocation of the firehouse and the construction of the bridge,” Higgins said. “The bridge is all in the county’s hands and we want to get out of the way of the county so that they can do the bridge. So we’re on a five-year plan and if we break ground in the spring that would be about five years because we’ve been working on it for a little while. I’d like to see both projects totally complete within five years.”

Higgins said the Delaware Engineering firm wrote the grant for the project, which was chosen by the DEC.

“Municipalities that become Climate Smart Communities serve as models for others across the state by taking local action to reduce pollution and protect residents from severe weather and other consequences of our changing climate,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement. “Gov. Hochul recognizes the severity of the challenges before us and these Climate Smart grants demonstrate New York State’s ongoing commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping all cities, towns and villages, especially environmental justice communities, become stronger and more resilient.”

Higgins said the village will reconvene its relocation committee in the next two weeks in the hopes of identifying a new property for the firehouse.

The village plans to relocate the station west of the current site outside of the regulatory floodway and the 100-year and 500-year flood hazard areas of the Schoharie Creek.

The existing fire station and back building are set to be demolished and replaced with a municipal park with streamside access. The existing fire station becomes inaccessible during even moderate flood events due to the undersized Bridge Street span.

According to the DEC, relocation of the firehouse will allow for the expansion of the bridge and alleviate flooding throughout the village.

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