SOMERS, N.Y. -- If all of the pieces fall into place, the Somers Volunteer Fire Department could find itself with a new firehouse after more than 50 years in its current location.
Talk about the new firehouse has been going around for a couple of years, but now that the Fire Commission has been able to work out a deal with IBM for a chunk of land on Route 100, all of that talk could become a reality within a year or so if John Markiewicz, chairman of the Somers Board of Fire Commissioners, has his way.
"The old building is so outdated and doesn't serve today's needs," he said. "That includes a place for firefighters to eat and sleep in emergencies or meeting current disability requirements."
Once all of the hurdles have been jumped and the building gets the okay from the public, the new firehouse will stand on the site of the current state police barracks and acres of surrounding land.
In addition to providing a new home for the state police, the building would also provide new offices for the fire commission, a meeting room that could act as an evacuation spot for residents in storms and, perhaps most importantly, give the department room to grow and add an ambulance at that end of town, Markiewicz said.
"The building will give the firefighters a place to sleep and eat when they are needed to stay on duty, as well as offer the public a place to charge their phones, or cool off, or warm up during emergencies," he added.
The biggest issue with moving forward with the new building was getting the land from IBM who were asking an astounding amount for the 12 acres of property, he said.
"But we kept trying and once we reached the right person at IBM there was a little back and forth with numbers, and then the deal was done," he laughs.
The entire Fire Department is excited about the possibility of a move, but Markiewicz wants to make sure the town and residents are on board and excited as well, he said.
"We would love to have an ambulance at this end of town and the new firehouse would allow us to do that," he said. "We have our most runs in this area and that would help the residents in need of medical help in the vicinity."
To pay for the building, the district would go out for a bond, but are doing everything to make sure that the price is not carried over to residents.
"We need to get the city on board, and we will hold plenty of public meetings with residents for their input before anything is done," he added.
Once all of the meetings are complete and everything is complete, the residents would vote whether to construct the building or not.
"We are hoping they will approve, but they need to be well informed and we will make sure that happens and we will listen to what they have to say," he said.
Another plus is that the district plans to donate the old firehouse to the town to be used as a possible senior center at no charge.
And, the state police are happy with the plan and have endorsed the district's efforts: "The new building would keep the police in town and that's a good thing."
"We aren't planning on building a palace. We are talking about vinyl floors and brick walls. But it will be updated and offer all of the services the department needs now and in the future."