By Kevin Redding
Following a tight vote Tuesday, a decades-old firehouse in Rocky Point will officially be replaced with a more modern one, and a brand new fire truck will inhabit it.
Rocky Point Fire District residents took to voting booths at the North Beach Company 2 firehouse on 90 King Road Aug. 8 to weigh in on two propositions, one, to knock down the existing station for a safer, updated structure and the other, to acquire a new aerial apparatus.
Among a total 401 votes, 204 residents voted “yes” and 197 voted “no” to demolition, costing $7,250,000 to do so. Taxes will increase, but the maximum maturity of the bonds will not go beyond 30 years.
To purchase the new ladder truck, with a total cost of $1,250,000, members of the district voted 214 to 187 in favor. The maximum maturity of the bonds is said to not exceed 20 years.
“I’m very relieved,” Rocky Point Fire District Secretary Edwin Brooks said upon announcing the tallied votes to a crowd of cheering volunteer firefighters. “I didn’t think it would be as close as it was, but I’m relieved it passed. The majority of the community thought it was the right thing.”
Tim Draskin, a volunteer firefighter within the district for two years now, said it was an absolute necessity to refurbish the firehouse.
“The whole community will realize once it’s done just how much it’s going to impact everything,” Draskin said. “The building’s old and definitely needs it.”
Built in the early 1950s with very few upgrades since then, the current structure has been in need of repair and renovations for decades to accommodate for more modern requirements of firefighters, from new safety regulations to equipment and apparatuses, as well as mandatory handicap-accessibility.
Also, major out-of-date infrastructure, like heating systems, will be replaced.
Before votes were tallied, residents explained where they stood on the propositions.
“I’m not ashamed to say I voted ‘yes’ on both,” Pam Fregeau said, adding she knows the equipment needs to be updated. “I just want the firemen to be safe, because them being safe means my family is safe, means my grandchildren here are safe. I want us all to be safe. These firefighters put their lives on the line and they’re not even paid for it. For the amount it’s going to cost me a year, I think I can handle that.”
Mary Volz shared the same sentiment.
“I just want the firemen to be safe, because them being safe means my family is safe, means my grandchildren here are safe.”
— Pam Fregeau
“For the firefighters to do their job properly, they need a well-working building,” Volz said. “It should definitely be refurbished and if the taxes are going up either way, they should really do this work.”
One man, however, who asked to remain anonymous, did not agree.
“I think they’re excessive,” he said of the costs. “I’ve been in contact with numerous fire departments for many years and I’ve seen excessive spending of taxpayers’ money, so that’s why I did double ‘no.’”
District Commissioner David Brewer, who was among the board of commissioners that set the project in motion in June, said he was extremely grateful for the community’s support.
“The Board of Fire Commissioners is always trying to balance the needs of the fire department with the tax burden of the residents,” Brewer said over the phone. “We think these two bonds do just that.”
According to district officials, final design of the project will go forward, as well as the bidding processes for contractors.
They hope to break ground next spring.