As the new Central Fire Station in Peekskill was formally put into service with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Dec. 19, the city was getting ready to seek proposals for the possible sale of two of its old firehouses, which have been closed.
There had been five firehouses operating in the city. All operations have now been moved to the new 30,300-square-foot Central Fire Station at Main and South Broad streets.
“Incorporating all of our fire operations in one facility means better management, better control and better response to emergencies,” Peekskill City Manager Richard Leins told the Business Journal.
The city owns four of the old firehouse sites; the fifth had been rented. It plans to seek proposals for new uses of the former firehouse properties on Broad Street and North Division Street. The other two will continue to be used for city purposes.
“Anything is on the table,” Leins said. “We’ve already received a couple of expressions of interest. The new uses would have to comply with current zoning and could be residential or mixed use.” Leins said that the city would consider adaptive reuse of the existing structures or a complete site redevelopment and that the Common Council would have to approve of what ultimately gets done.
“It’s important to get the properties back on the city’s tax roll,” he said. Leins did not have estimates of the prices the city might ask for the properties, nor did he have square footage estimates for them immediately available. He said the city’s Planning Department would be handling the details.
Leins noted that the importance of the new Central Fire Station to Peekskill goes beyond its role in protecting life and property. “One of the important things to do in attracting new development for the city is have the infrastructure that’s up and ready to accommodate it. This new firehouse is an important upgrade.”
The new Central Fire Station has a large community room, capable of accommodating 200 to 300 people, which Leins characterized as being “a major amenity for the community.” The city is planning to make it available to organizations for meetings and events. Because it has a kitchen, parties and other catered events also could be handled.
Peekskill has a staff of 25 paid firefighters along with a volunteer force of about 200. In addition to sleeping quarters, equipment storage and garage facilities for the apparatus, the new fire station has facilities to accommodate the department’s training needs.
To date, the city has spent $17,295,000 on the fire station project, with a few more bills still expected to come in. The project took about two years to bring to fruition. It was designed by Mitchell Associates Architects in Voorheesville, New York. The firm specializes in fire station developments.
Several studies were conducted to help determine whether the best course of action for Peekskill would be to renovate the existing firehouses or build something new. It was determined that two of the old firehouses could not be brought up to current state and federal standards and renovation and expansion of the other three would cost the city more than $14 million.