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Peekskill Officials Approve FEIS, Use of Eminent Domain for New Firehouse

The Common Council passed a resolution stating requirements have been met to begin eminent domain proceedings for the central firehouse plan if they are warranted. It also accepted the final draft environmental impact statement for the plan.

Peekskill officials took two steps toward completing a controversial plan for the creation of central firehouse during Monday night's council meeting.

The Common Council accepted the final environmental impact statement for the project and passed a resolution authorizing the use of eminent domain, if needed, for the acquisition of property needed for the construction of the facility. The resolutions can be seen in the PDFs attached to this story.

Officials want to build a 36,000 square foot, $15.6 million, two-story structure built on the northwest corner of Main and Broad streets and has been studying plans for the facility since 2008. The city’s current facilities are outdated; too small for the fire trucks; too cramped for the people on duty and for proper training; and can’t be retrofitted to meet the needs current needs of the department.

The city has already acquired 1137 Main Street and 1141 Main Street in order to acquire the space needed for the project. But the city is still undergoing lengthy negotiations with the owner of the Crossroads Shopping Center, located at 1101-9 Main Street, so that it can move forward with the project.

“If we end up having to exercise the power of eminent domain...we do believe that this meets the public safety needs for our city and the public safety needs for our firefighters,” Mayor Mary Foster said.

Foster said the Common Council did not want to use eminent domain to acquire the project and noted that officials passed a resolution stating that the city would use condemnation to acquire property for economic development purposes.

“We would not buy someone’s property to turn it over to a developer, but we have always reserved our rights to use the power of eminent domain for a true public purpose,” Foster said.

The Common Council’s decision to accept the final environmental impact statement means that the city is just one step away from filing its findings statement and making a final decision in the state environmental review process.

Planning Director Anthony Ruggiero said that he planned to send the environment impact statement to interested parties tomorrow. Those parties will have 10 days, starting on Tuesday, to respond to the document.

Foster described the procedure as being a ‘five year birthing process.’ 

“This is a project that we’ve been working on for five years and it started in 2008 with a lot of discussion in our work sessions,” Foster said. “We had consultants come in, go through various site options, go through the state of all of our firehouses, what the issues would be with renovation, did time studies in terms of what would be an ideal location and making sure nothing would compromise response times.”

sayitsnotsojack December 12, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Your words are so true, but there is one thing we suffering taxpayers (the few of us left) can do which is to vote. Vote no to the school district that just spends and spends, Vote for people who will stop all the giveaways to the non profits, and work to find profit making enterprises who will help relieve the burden on us. Vote no, yell louder than the one who just want and take, but give nothing. If we continue to sit by and watch ice dancing with the stars instead of getting active we too will be looking for hand outs but there is not going to be anyone to give to us.
peekskillman December 12, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Ms.Feder, Mr Pacchiana and others are quite right, the cost of this building is much more than the $16 mil price tag. That was a number that was derived app 5 years ago when the plans started. With the shape of the economy, layoffs, costs of goods, labor, insurance ,etc, this price estimate is going to be closer to over $25 mil when all is said and done. The City may have passed eminent domain legislation, but have neglected the true impact of the cost: loss of tax revenue, the costs associated with moving the existing businesses, and the loss of income that these business owners may face. A glaring omission from the study is the testing of the site itself. This old-time citizen can remember the days of "urban renewal" from the 60s and 70s, when buildings were torn down in the name of progress, to give us the monuments to change, such as the white elephant parking garage. All the debris was buried on site, as there were no EPA and other oversights as now. What is the added costs when they find problems with the ground when they try to build? More costs!!
peekskillman December 12, 2012 at 02:53 AM
as to the comment from the mayor that it will not affect the 2013 budget, what about the following years? The head of the firefighters union, various citizens, and business owners have all come out against this project in its current form. However, the council is pandering to the volunteer firemen, led by a retired phys ed coach, and pressing ahead. There has been cutbacks in staff, people are demoralized, others are leaving in droves, and yet they can still find $ for this? Our children, if they even choose to remain here, will be paying for this for years to come. come on council, cut back the size of this or put it off to a later date. Better yet, put it to a vote of the citizens as was mentioned by a number of people at council meetings.Remember the phrase "the will of the people?" Let the people speak!
TO THE POINT December 15, 2012 at 06:13 PM
of course the mayor and the bobblehead dolls(council) are pushing for this firehouse! This way when they are gone and they finally get there name on a plaque so they can say "look what we did" and think they did something!The only thing they did is ruin peoples lives and put the city in a bigger hole.How would you heat and cool that huge firehouse with no money?
john basic December 28, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Common Sense says that 2013 is NOT the time to spend 16 - 20 or 25 million dollars on a new firehouse plus the legal costs of Eminent Domain plus the cost of taking down the buildings in the shopping center plus losing the taxes from the business plus the cost of doing someting with the old firehouses plus.....tbc.

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