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Aug 28, 2012 3:52 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Fire District Lifts Curtain On Three Firehouse Plans

Aug 29, 2012 10:58 AM

No one in attendance last week opposed any of the proposals now on the table, though some did request that the district investigate some cost-saving options first. One village resident, Ralph Neubauer, a former chairman of the Westhampton Beach Planning Board, suggested that the fire district look into selling the current firehouse property and using those proceeds to buy another lot and build a new firehouse at a different location.

“This is a very valuable piece of property,” Mr. Neubauer said of the Sunset Avenue property which, up until 2006, also served as Westhampton Beach Village Hall. “If we had the chance to put this property on the market ,and recoup some of the money for rebuilding the department, that is something that should be considered.”

While sitting in the audience, Fire Commissioner Dean Culver said the district made the decision to keep the current property because of its centralized location while noting that firefighters also provide fire protection to those living in Westhampton, Quiogue and West Hampton Dunes Village.

When pushed by audience members on why ballpark figures for the three plans could not be released, Sandpebble Builders President Victor Canseco said such figures have not yet been finalized. He added that numbers will be released over the next few months.

“Very often in a project like this, someone throws a number out and it is useless,” he said. “People do that because everybody wants to know how much it costs, but a number is a very specific amount of money and we don’t have a specific project here.

“Once we get close enough, we will give you a number you can bank on,” he continued. “We are your advocates and we are out there making sure that whatever you end up buying, you get your money’s worth.”

Without releasing specific figures, Mr. Canseco noted that the estimated cost difference between the cheapest and most expensive plans, with the latter being the one that calls for the demolition of the firehouse and old police building, would not be as drastic as some might assume. He did not elaborate on that comment.

Last year, the Southampton Village Fire Department completed a similar project, demolishing its 4,000-square-foot firehouse and replacing it with a new 14,000-square-foot building. The $5.9 million building opened in December 2011.

“There is always going to be a need for a fire department,” Mr. Canseco said. “You can either do it now, or years from now, but you are going to have to pay the piper and pay so much more than you would now.”

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