Thanks to intervention by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the town of Jay is ready to move forward with construction of a new firehouse for the Upper Jay Volunteer Fire Department.
An insurance dispute between the town and an insurance company delayed work on building a new fire station after the old one was heavily damaged by Tropical Storm Irene last year. Town officials wanted to move the station to a new location where it would be safe from future flooding, while insurers wondered whether it should be repaired and rebuilt at its current location on state Route 9N, next to the Wells Memorial Library and not far from the East Branch of the AuSable River.
Jay town Supervisor Randy Douglas said the $900,000 settlement agreement, which was reached after negotiations that involved the town, the insurance company and representatives from the state Department of Financial Services, is a big win for the community of Upper Jay.
"We will finally have a new firehouse after the old one was destroyed by Hurricane Irene," Douglas said in a press release. "We cannot thank Governor Cuomo enough for his efforts to work out this agreement with the insurance company that will save our taxpayers a lot of money by avoiding litigation, and allow the project to move forward now."
Douglas told the Enterprise the insurance company was going to sue the town because it didn't believe the building sustained more than 50 percent damage. Douglas then set up a meeting with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state emergency officials, Cuomo and Benjamin Lawsky from the Financial Services department.
"Cuomo instructed Lawsky's office to get involved and be a mediator," Douglas said. "Cuomo acted as mediator through his staff."
Cuomo said in a prepared statement that the agreement avoids costly litigation.
State Sen. Betty Little and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward also lauded the agreement.
The agreement will let the town and the fire department begin drafting plans for a new fire station. Douglas said the next step is to meet with state and federal emergency officials to establish a location.
In the neighboring hamlet of Keene, fire officials recently received approval from taxpayers to purchase the Mountain Manor, across from Stewart's Shop on state Route 73, and build a new station there.