|Why Can't We Renovate The Old Firehouse?|
|By Lieutenant Heather Feldman|
|April 14, 2019|
We are land-locked in the Bedford Village Historic District.
• The firehouse is historic, as are the Bedford Free Library and the Lounsbery (Horse Connection) Building, and the Post Office, which wraps around the Lounsbery building and flanks our left rear.
We do not have room here to build an adequate station for our current operations, let alone future operations.
• Our lot is 1/3 of an acre, most of which is already built.
• The alley to our parking lot belongs to the Historical Society, which leases it to the Post Office. Mail trucks often block our access in or out, and although some people say we could re-orient the Post Office’s loading dock, we don’t own it, and re-orienting it would eliminate the parking area for the mail delivery trucks.
• The walkway between the firehouse and the library belongs to the Historical Society. Our stairway from the front to the second floor is not even on our property.
• The property directly behind us belongs to the Presbyterian Church. They graciously let us use some of their land for storage, drills, and events.
• If we were to build out our entire lot, we’d lose what little parking we have behind the firehouse for the library and postal workers and the first responders. Every time we have to park on the green, if we can find a spot, we take a space from a customer of local business.
• Various ideas and plans were explored to expand, including acquiring more land to the rear and towards Court Road. The Town of Bedford recommended we look at alternative sites due to the antique infrastructure in the historic district and the known soil conditions around the Green.
The real issue is the width of the building: we can’t/don’t want to knock down the Library or the Post Office.
• By modern safety standards, our truck floor should not be configured as 2 bays: safe clearance here is for one line of trucks only.
• If we were to expand this station and bring it up to code, it would not be able to contain even the equipment we already have packed in.
• Addressing these regulatory issues, which would be required by law in a renovation, would result in even less space for our operations.
• Renovating this location would require the building of temporary headquarters for operations. Where? What would that add to the cost?
• Addressing just the NYS Building Code for Essential Facilities would require removing all the brick from this building and installing reinforced masonry, AND installing a pile system under the building for structural integrity.
• Addressing these changes, in this location, in the professional opinion of our architecture and engineering team, would not only be costly, time-consuming and disruptive to the local businesses, but would finally result in a building that would be a fraction of the facility we need to adequately serve the needs of the community now and for the next 50-75 years.
The current firehouse will be put on the market for sale, and our hope is that the community will help brainstorm uses for it that will bring people to the Village Green Historic District, and spread the word far and wide that this unique, historic and really cool old building will be available for purchase by someone with the creativity and vision to make it an integral part of the social fabric of Bedford Village.
We love this firehouse. We would stay here if we could. The fire department is 100% volunteer: we are your friends and neighbors. We are all in this together.