Philipstown Town Board Confers with Continental Village Firefighters on Truck Buy

Also moves ahead on generator as cell tower effort stalls

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

Casually convening around a table, members of the Philipstown Town Board and Continental Village Fire Department (CVFD) conferred Wednesday night (Aug. 6) on the firefighters’ plans to buy a new, $575,000 multi-purpose truck, a proposal that elicited generally favorable responses from the Town Board.

During a workshop at Town Hall, the evening before their formal monthly meeting, the board members also informally agreed to pursue installation of a generator at the old landfill given the lack of progress on a cell tower project that had included donation of a generator.

Continental Village fire truck

The Continental Village Fire Department proposed the truck purchase in July, seeking to schedule a public hearing on lease-purchase financing for up to $375,000 of the total cost, but the Town Board deferred action, requesting more details.

Members of the Continental Village Fire Department await the Town Board workshop. Photo by L.S. Armstrong

Members of the Continental Village Fire Department await the Town Board workshop. Photo by L.S. Armstrong

The eight CFVD representatives at Wednesday’s workshop explained that they intend to use $200,000 of reserves to cover the rest of the expense and that they foresaw no negative impact on taxes or fire protection rates. The truck they want, a 2014 rescue-pumper, general-use vehicle, would allow the department to dispatch only one piece of equipment to many calls.

According to written information the CVFD provided the Town Board, the truck contains an extrication tool providing faster care of someone injured; carries 500 gallons of water; includes a light tower for operating in darkness; has a mechanism for refilling air bottles; and accommodates its whole crew inside the vehicle, enhancing safety. The fire department stated it anticipates using the truck when responding to collisions and EMS-assistance cases, water or hiking rescues, structure fires, and similar emergencies.

“You guys make it easy,” Town Supervisor Richard Shea said, as the fire department delegation went over the data. He also cited their financial accountability and said they “do a great job, all across the board.”

Councilor John Van Tassel, a veteran firefighter in the North Highlands Fire District, added “I think it’s a wonderful idea to go to a combined vehicle,” serving multi-purposes, given personnel concerns. The firefighters said their department has about 70 members, of whom perhaps 30 can respond and do the nitty-gritty work at each serious call.

The CVFD delegation also said the department has been formalizing a non-profit, 501(c)(3) federal tax status that permits it to more readily seek funding.

Councilor Nancy Montgomery, who works for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, pointed out that grants for firefighting equipment exist and that “we got a lot for Putnam County” departments this year.

As the dialogue concluded, Shea said the board would consider the CVFD plans at an upcoming workshop, with an eye toward moving forward.

Recycling center generator

In other business, Shea urged that the town government pursue its own plans for installing a generator at the old landfill, now the recycling headquarters, to ensure constant radio communication capabilities in emergency situations. A company interested in putting a cell tower at the landfill had offered to provide a generator as part of the deal, but Shea said that he had heard nothing further from the firm after the cell tower initiative caused a public ruckus this spring and questions about the tower’s height persisted.

Residents objected to the venture for reasons of aesthetics and safety, although the tower seems likely to go up on a private parcel in their part of town, along Lane Gate Road and Route 9, if not at the town landfill. Private property-owners were reportedly interested in the tower, and earning the rental income it would bring — regardless of neighbors’ sensibilities.

Shea said that even if the landfill does eventually accommodate the cell tower, it will take time and the town should not wait to obtain a generator, which he estimated would cost $7,500.

“I think we should just do it; get the generator in, before the storm season starts,” Van Tassel agreed. The board then decided to pull together the specifications it needs to proceed.

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