Peekskill officials took two steps toward completing a controversial plan for the creation of central firehouse during Monday night's council meeting.
The Common Council accepted the final environmental impact statement for the project and passed a resolution authorizing the use of eminent domain, if needed, for the acquisition of property needed for the construction of the facility. The resolutions can be seen in the PDFs attached to this story.
Officials want to build a 36,000 square foot, $15.6 million, two-story structure built on the northwest corner of Main and Broad streets and has been studying plans for the facility since 2008. The city’s current facilities are outdated; too small for the fire trucks; too cramped for the people on duty and for proper training; and can’t be retrofitted to meet the needs current needs of the department.
The city has already acquired 1137 Main Street and 1141 Main Street in order to acquire the space needed for the project. But the city is still undergoing lengthy negotiations with the owner of the Crossroads Shopping Center, located at 1101-9 Main Street, so that it can move forward with the project.
“If we end up having to exercise the power of eminent domain...we do believe that this meets the public safety needs for our city and the public safety needs for our firefighters,” Mayor Mary Foster said.
Foster said the Common Council did not want to use eminent domain to acquire the project and noted that officials passed a resolution stating that the city would use condemnation to acquire property for economic development purposes.
“We would not buy someone’s property to turn it over to a developer, but we have always reserved our rights to use the power of eminent domain for a true public purpose,” Foster said.
The Common Council’s decision to accept the final environmental impact statement means that the city is just one step away from filing its findings statement and making a final decision in the state environmental review process.
Planning Director Anthony Ruggiero said that he planned to send the environment impact statement to interested parties tomorrow. Those parties will have 10 days, starting on Tuesday, to respond to the document.
Foster described the procedure as being a ‘five year birthing process.’
“This is a project that we’ve been working on for five years and it started in 2008 with a lot of discussion in our work sessions,” Foster said. “We had consultants come in, go through various site options, go through the state of all of our firehouses, what the issues would be with renovation, did time studies in terms of what would be an ideal location and making sure nothing would compromise response times.”