Posted by: Dawn Powell | July 19, 2010

Putnam Valley Fire Department Scope

Fire Department Scoping Session, July 12, 2010

I did not submit my comments to give the fire department a hard time, or to damage their project.  It is only responsible to ask and answer all the questions when moving forward with a 9.5 to 11 million dollar project.  There are questions that need to be asked before the taxpayers are asked to pay.  And no matter how private the fire department corporation is, the taxpayers will be asked to pay, and therefore should be given every opportunity to ask.  Information should not be so begrudgingly given. A few individuals should not have to FOIL and pay for information about this project.  There should have been public information meetings, without the appearance of intimidation.  The made for tv performances about this project hurt everyone.

There has been a complete failure of leadership on this project.  And the Town Board’s failure to step up as co-lead agency has left the town’s residents largely unprotected and unrepresented in this project.  Only Mr. Yetter was present for the meeting.  The Board’s attendance was important.  This is what government is supposed to do for its constituents.

I believe that all of my questions should have already been answered by this point in the process.  The public should already know if this is the right way to proceed.

Public comment:

Patty spoke first and expressed concern about the fire department’s grant application, the possibility of receiving that grant, and the amount of money that has already been spent on this process.

Then I raised my issues. I will post my comments.

John wanted more public use of the buildings, and more public input throughout the process.  He was given the same tired old line that there will be more opportunity for public input, but everyone is aware that  by the time of the public hearing, everything has already been decided, unless there is a lawsuit.  There was an extra public hearing on this application early in the process, and the Planning Board is to be commended for scheduling that.  Those comments, however, were not incorporated, so the scoping session is really the only public comment that “counts.”

Heidi spoke about the earth berm that is supposed to divide this large structure from their small neighborhood, about the steep slope to the septic system and about two water storage systems so that storage water would not be pumped back into potable water.

Maureen talked about increase environmental protections, and about bringing the public into the process.

There was a brief discussion about the Town’s role, or lack thereof, the lack of referendum and the lack of oversight in expending public funds in this matter.

You can still comment until July 22, 2010.


My comments: Roman numerals and underlined terms refer back to the fire department’s draft scoping document.

July 12, 2010 Putnam Valley Fire Department Scoping Session

Thank you for the opportunity to include public concerns in the scoping document for this project.

IV. Impact Issues , C. Zoning and Land Use.

This proposed plan is in a residential zone and is adjacent to a residential community.  Why is a non-residential, non-municipal building proposed in this zone?  Considering the zoning problem, what is the basis for the project progressing to this point?  What reason would there be to believe that the Zoning Board of Appeals would grant a use variance, traditionally a very difficult variance to obtain?

There is a June 22, 2009 memo from the town planner stating that the Planning Board is of the opinion that the proposed use is a “municipal building” and is, therefore, a permitted use in the R3 zone.

Aside from the identification of the zone both as R3 and R2, when did the Planning Board make that decision and on what authority?  When did the Town Board make their decision that this was not a municipal building and therefore, not subject to permissive referendum, and on what authority?

Since this is not a permitted use in this zone, will the expenditure of public funds be stopped unless the issue is resolved?

III. Description of the Proposed Action, D. Project Purpose, Need, and Benefit

For an equivalent population, topography,  and land mass, what equipment is necessary for firefighting, according to independent studies?  What size firefighting force do we need for this population, topography,  and land mass?  Where does Putnam Valley currently stand in regard to these stats?

As population growth may be stalled by economic forces, and census results are not yet available, on what is the need for expansion based? 

What are the stats on current response time?

What proportion of calls are answered from the Tompkins Corners’ substation?  Please compare expansion of the substation with the proposed project.

What percentage of calls are for the state owned Taconic Parkway? How much does the state provide for their fire protection and accident intervention?  If the state provided these services, how much would be saved for the Town of Putnam Valley?

Please provide an inventory of current equipment and a projection of equipment needs for the next five years; the next ten years, and an explanation of that need.

Please provide statistics for the current dive team, an explanation of the need, and the cost.

What is the total cost (all costs) per person/per household of our current fire department? 

What is the projected decrease in response time, property damage, and loss of life resulting from this project?

Please provide a projection regarding future needs for professional (paid) fire protection, and facility needs at that time.

IV. Impact Issues, D. Fiscal Impacts and V. Alternatives

What will be the increased costs resulting from this project?

   3. Mitigation

What building code changes would protect the public most effectively against loss of life; against loss of property?

What advances in fire fighting are available currently, in lieu of the hose and water method in use now?  What are the cost comparisons? What advances are on the horizon?  What are the comparisons for loss of life and property?

Please provide a cost estimate for retrofitting existing homes with sprinkler systems, and a comparison of the effectiveness of sprinklers with traditional fire fighting methods.  Please provide the statistics for loss of life and property for serious fires with current methods.

Please provide a comparison of the provisions of a fire district and fire protection district. Please provide a cost comparison.

In this age of consolidation, what services can be consolidated with the neighboring ambulance corps? Equipment storage, equipment and personnel  washing facilities, party facilities, emergency shelter,  dispatch?  Please identify any other possible consolidation and the cost savings.

Please identify any possible consolidation with other neighboring fire departments.  Please identify current consolidations, and proposed changes, and the costs of those changes.

Please identify possible services that could be supplied on a county level, and the cost comparison.

IV.  Impact Issues, C. Zoning and Land Use

What impact will there be on the neighboring community from sirens, horns, and flashing lights?

What impact will there be from parties and events on the neighboring community?

IV . Impact Issues,  B, Water Resources, 3.Mitigation Measures

What environmentally preferable alternative are there to sump pits for stormwater drainage? What permeable surfaces are available that can handle heavy equipment?

The neighboring community may not have wells and septic systems that are up to current standards.  Should your facility impact those wells or septic systems, what provisions will you have in place to protect those residents?

What will be the basis for your determination of water and septic needs?  Will the septic be designed for parties and public events?  What will your water use be for storage, for filling pumper trucks, for washing trucks? 

What can be done to increase the proportion of permeable surfaces?

Comments not included in this and other public comment on July 12, 2010

At prior meetings, an autistic child was mentioned living in the adjacent residential community.  The residential nature of this zone should protect that child.  What mitigation alternatives are possible for protection of that child?

A steep slope to the proposed septic area was mentioned.  What mitigation is possible to avoid destroying the steep slope?

The proposed building is much larger than the ambulance corps and most structures in Putnam Valley, and is within a residential zone.  What mitigation or avoidance is possible to limit the neighborhood impact and changes in community appearance?

What will be the increased costs of maintenance and operation of the new building?

The building is close to the neighboring residential community, and it is oversized for the area.  What mitigation alternatives are identified to minimize impact to that community?

I understand the desire for local training facilities, but the economic times have changed.  What alternatives are available for training?

Facilities for volunteers to wash after response are necessary. What washing facilities can be built at the current location?

 What expansion is possible at the current location to avoid the potential negative impacts from this project?

 Dawn Powell


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