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Plans For Saratoga Springs Fire/EMS Station Progress

Demers Ambulances
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Demers Ambulances (file photo)

Saratoga Springs is moving ahead with plans to build a new public safety facility on the city’s east side.

During her State of the City address Tuesday, Democratic Mayor Meg Kelly listed what she called accomplishments from the city council in 2019 and moving into 2020.

“These are results that the entire council can be proud of because we worked together to accomplish them. The first one is the east side fire station, closer to realization than any time in recent history.”

There has been debate surrounding an east side fire/EMS station for years in Saratoga Springs.

Here’s a clip from a WAMC story 2018, when city resident Don Colosimo spoke to the city council about his friend who died after suffering a medical emergency during a dinner party at his home near Saratoga Lake.

“I sort of wonder now, that instead of having a 10-minute ride before they placed the paddles on him, if they were dispatched not from our main fire station, but from our fabulous east side public safety facility…that was only a five-minute ride from my house, it might have saved my friend,” said Colosimo. “But wait. We don’t have a public safety east side facility. It’s not even on your budget to have one. We don’t count on the east side?”

Until now, the city had issues finding a location for a public safety facility. Last week, the city council approved contractor Hueber-Breuer Construction Co. to conduct a needs analysis for a parcel on Henning Road.

The study, authorized at $33,000, will examine if a fire station can sit on the property, include a traffic analysis, and identify the cost to build. 

Mayor Kelly says the city is talking with the state, which owns the parcel located across from a Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES facility.

“We’re still working on an easement with New York State, who owns the land. We’re in that process right now. We’ve had a couple of phone conversations and we’re working through that process,” said Kelly.

Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan said the construction of such a facility will be one of the fiscal challenges facing the city in 2020. But she, along with other city councilors, are pushing ahead despite a potential loss of $2.3 million in aid to the city. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s state budget proposal cuts the aid to the city and other municipalities from Video Lottery Terminal gaming facilities.

Madigan said a new station would be a “significant expense.”

“We’re looking at anywhere, probably, from $3 to $5 million to build, if not more. So of course, I’m paying attention to the $2.3 million in VLT, other revenues, seeing what’s going on there – just so we can ensure that we can keep moving ahead on all of our projects and programs,” said Madigan.

Recently-elected Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton said she would like to a new emergency facility suits the property and reflects the character of the surrounding neighborhood. 

“I think we’re right on the precipice. I don’t see anything holding us back or being in our way. By all accounts, it is full speed ahead,” said Dalton.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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