CROTON FALLS, N.Y. -- Amid fanfare and sunny weather, Croton Falls firefighters held a groundbreaking on Saturday for their new firehouse.
After several local officials spoke, folks came up to a pile of dirt to take turns with ceremonial shoveling and for photo opportunities. The gathering was also marked by several rounds of applause.
Angelo D'Agostino, chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners, said construction will start next Tuesday. He mentioned that a priority will be to get the roof done before snow comes.
The new firehouse will be created by renovating an existing garage, which is located at 1 Sun Valley Road (opposite the Shell gas station). Officials anticipate that the work will take about a year.
The groundbreaking is just the latest step for the fire district. Officials recalled that a bond vote was approved last year to pay for the purchase of the site and construction. The bond cost is around $4.5 million.
Jeff Daday, who is president of the fire department and is a member of the construction committee, cited the doubling of fire engine sizes as a reason for moving to a new firehouse. Discussing the lack of space at the current firehouse in downtown Croton Falls, Daday noted that you can't walk between trucks and instead have to turn sideways.
“It's just too small,” he said.
The current firehouse has had three expansions added since construction in the 1930s, according to Daday. It is about 4,000 square feet, Daday explained, while the new building is roughly 10,000.
The future of the current building, located at 1 Front St., is unclear. The fire department, which owns the building, has yet to decide what to do with it, Daday explained. He discussed possibilities that range from having it for a public use or selling it.
On hand for the ceremony was David Principe, whose family owned the garage before it was sold last year to the fire district. In an interview, he recalled that his grandfather, who was a Croton Falls firefighter, built it in the late 1950s. The garage was later leased out to a local phone company, a predecessor company of Verizon, according to Principe. He mentioned that Verizon decided not to renew the lease, an action that eventually followed the fire district's purchase.
Principe, who lives in West Hartford, Conn., and would take summer visits to the hamlet when he was growing up, said Croton Falls has a “special place in my heart.”
The fire district, which is the department's governing body, owns the new site and the other firehouse in town, according to D'Agostino.
Speaking during at the gathering, D'Agostino predicted longevity for the new firehouse.
“It's going to take a long time for us to outgrow this building,” he said.
Elected officials gave their praise at the gathering.
State Assemblyman David Buchwald thanked the people who have been involved in the effort for the new building.
“You know, this is going to be a beautiful structure,” said Westchester County Legislator Peter Harckham, who is also a North Salem resident.
In an interview, North Salem Supervisor Warren Lucas spoke favorably about the site.
“It's a great location," he said. "It's far better than where they currently are." Lucas then concurred with remarks about the new site's long-term viability.
A video with highlights of the ceremony is attached to this article, along with a photo gallery.
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