Last Wednesday was a day many thought would never happen.
After more than a decade of planning, there was a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Wallkill firehouse at the Borden family property across the street from John G. Borden Middle School.
Once completed, the new firehouse would be around 17,500-square-feet and provide more office space for the Wallkill Fire District, an additional fire truck bay, plus more space for the training of current and future firefighters. Voters in the Wallkill Fire District voted Tuesday, March 24, 2019 for the new firehouse.
The new firehouse will take the place of the current firehouse on Central Avenue next to Shawangunk Town Hall that was built in 1964. The district has found that the firehouse has structural issues due to the age of the building.
The single-pane windows in the building’s meeting room also date back to 1964 and are not energy efficient, while the roof also needs replacing. The new firehouse could also provide additional parking for events at the middle school, as a crosswalk would have to be established across Route 208 to facilitate pedestrian travel between the two sites.
The new firehouse will cost about $7 million when completed and will impact district homeowners’ taxes based on their homes’ assessed value.
There was a sense of cheer in the air during the groundbreaking ceremony, as years of work is looking like it will pay off.
“Today is a great day in the history of the Wallkill Fire Department…,” said Wallkill Fire District Commissioner Michael Croce. “Our architect Peter Cirillo from Cirillo Architects of Middletown has designed a building that I do believe the community will be proud of as they drive by it in the future.”
Wallkill Fire Chief Nick Walker is excited for this long-awaited project.
“The past ten years that I’ve been with this department, I never really thought we’d actually be standing up here putting a shovel into the ground...,” he said. “We’re on call 24/7, 365 days a year. It’s 100 percent volunteer. It means a lot that in the middle of the night when we go out to an alarm we get to come back to a nice house.”
As town supervisor, John Valk has watched this project for many years. He commended the district’s commissioners for helping the department get a new firehouse.
“There’s been a lot of peaks and valleys to get to this point today,” Valk said. “I have to commend the board of fire commissioners because I know behind the scenes getting to here wasn’t easy. There were a lot of compromises, a lot of meetings, a lot of discussions and you are to be commended for bringing us to this point.”
The new firehouse is expected to be completed about a year from now.