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Elsmere fire officials seek reserves for new station

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GLENMONT — Elsmere Fire Commissioners want to take $50,000 from the department’s reserves to spend on unintended costs associated with the construction of a second station.

The project’s $1.3 million bond drives most of the construction revenue, but reserves would fund any “incidental costs” that could come along the way.

“Right now, we’re moving the funds to make sure that there’s no shortfall for this year for the next two months,” Jack Brennan, chair of the Elsmere Board of Fire Commissioners said.

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These plans, OK’d by the district’s Board of Fire Commissioners on Oct. 16, are subject to taxpayer approval. Under state law, a public board cannot touch reserves without a permissive referendum.

This caveat allows residents to initiate a public vote if 20 percent of registered voters sign a petition against the decision within 30 days of a legal notice.

Brennan doesn’t see any roadblocks in the way of moving money so far.

“[It’s] not that I’m aware of,” he said.

Voters haven’t always embraced the project. Last year, 180 voters in the district opposed construction via ballot proposition. The project passed by 272 votes.

Nearing the vote, district resident Sam Messina in a letter to Spotlight News pointed at the cost of the bond, the timing of the referendum, and a need for more shared services, in opposition to the station.

Prior to the proposition, construction plans floated through the Glenmont Planning Board for months. Planning Board members found fault with the station’s stormwater management plan and lack of sidewalks.

The site plan was eventually approved by the Planning Board in July of 2017. The Zoning Board of Appeals members reviewed the application that December.

Throughout the approval process, proponents have expressed a need to expand access in the southern reaches of the district. Located at the intersection of Feura Bush Road and Wemple Road, the new station was designed to service to Glenmont residents.

There’s currently one station in Delmar.

The project broke ground in September. It is expected to be built by December and open in the spring.

Brennan estimates that some $200,000 has been spent to date. Construction costs altogether are projected to hit $1.4 million.

“Now the serious money is taking hold,” he said.