AuSABLE FORKS - Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday the state will give $1.5 million to help finish rebuilding the Upper Jay firehouse.
The current fire station was heavily damaged by floodwaters caused by Tropical Storm Irene two years ago.
Cuomo began the announcement by talking about how Upper Jay firefighters are jealous of Keene firefighters, because they cut the ribbon to open the new Keene fire station this spring with the help of state funds.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, left, poses Wednesday with, from left, Keene town Supervisor Bill Ferebee, Jay Department of Public Works Director Chris Garrow, Assemblyman Dan Stec, Upper Jay fire commissioners Wayne Roberts, Mark Vondell, Brian Walton and Bob Wallace, and Jay town Supervisor Randy Douglas.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
He called the Keene firehouse a symbol of what he wants to do with his New York Rising Community Reconstruction Planning Committee, which is the way he plans to help communities across the state that have been hit by storms become more resilient to extreme weather. He said it was horrific when the Keene firehouse washed away, because it was supposed to be a safe place in times of trouble.
"It was traumatic to see," Cuomo said.
But now that the Keene firehouse is rebuilt, it's better and more durable, and it should withstand whatever storms throw at it, Cuomo said.
Now he wants to help do the same thing with the Upper Jay firehouse.
Residents of the Upper Jay Fire District voted 58-10 in February to let the fire district borrow no more than $100,000 for the new firehouse, but there was still a gap in funding.
The total cost of the new fire station project is $2,783,441, which includes the purchase of new land, demolition of the old facility and construction of the new building. The town was able to secure $1,286,765 to pay for the project with funding from insurance, municipal bonding, funds raised in the community and Federal Emergency Management Agency. To fill the remaining gap of $1,496,676, Essex County applied to the state for Community Development Block Grant funds, which is being made available now.
When Cuomo made the announcement, Jay town Supervisor Randy Douglas led the crowd gathered in the Jay town hall in a standing ovation.
Douglas thanked Cuomo for making the money available.
"Thank you, governor, and on behalf of the Upper Jay board of commissioners, who are sitting in the front row here. This has been a trying time for them," Douglas said. "I thank you from the bottom of our hearts, their hearts. They've struggled for two years. And without your help, I don't know what we would have done."
The current station is on state Route 9N, next door to the Wells Memorial Library. The new firehouse would be away from the banks of the East Branch of the AuSable River in an old farm field.
State Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, couldn't be there Wednesday when the governor announced the funding, but she made a comment in a press release sent out by Cuomo's office.
"The town of Jay lost more than just a firehouse in Hurricane Irene - part of the town's ability to serve its community was damaged and washed away," Little said in the release. "Today, with state government's help, we are taking a major step to make the community whole again. This is an example of government coming together to do what is right for the people, and I am pleased to have worked with Governor Cuomo to make our state stronger in the face of these and future storms."
Assemblyman Dan Stec talked in the press release about how important it is to rebuild facilities like firehouses stronger than before.
"With all of the extreme weather that has swept across New York state over the past few years, the importance of a quality fire house cannot be taken for granted," Stec said in the release. "These locations serve as important staging areas for not just fire personnel, but the larger community as well in an emergency. This state funding will prove to be a tremendous asset to the town of Jay, which can look forward to a new firehouse built to withstand the next big storm."
Contact Jessica Collier at 518-891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.