Fire departments, town, county seem to be on same page for Ulster training center

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Town of Ulster officials have agreed to take into consideration concerns by local fire companies as they enter into negotiations with Ulster County on the development of a new regional fire training center on Ulster Landing Road. The town’s fire companies already train on a facility on the property, and they’re hoping they’ll be allowed to continue to do so as the new training center is built.

Jerry McDonough, chief of the Spring Lake Fire Department, said a recent meeting between town officials, county officials, representatives from town fire companies and the Ulster Fire Training Center board appeared to put all parties on the same page.

McDonough summarized the draft agreement during a meeting of the Ulster Town Board held on Thursday, Sept. 6, revealing that in addition to having access to the current classroom and burn building while the new facility is built, town fire companies would also be given exclusive access to the new burn building after completion for 18 Monday evenings per year, along with additional 30 days of access to training facilities each year. In addition to Spring Lake, other fire departments in the town include Ulster Hose, Bloomington, East Kingston, Ruby and Sawkill.

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“This goes a long way to ensure that fire departments in our town continue to have access to fire training facilities that our personnel need,” said McDonough. “And it will prevent or at least delay the need for town fire departments to seek or build additional fire training center facilities in the town to carry out our individual fire departments’ training missions.”

The draft agreement includes a provision for the county to provide $30,000 over three years to maintain the current facility, with another $30,000 available should the new facility not be completed within that timeframe.

“This ensures that the Town of Ulster is protected from a project that fails to happen after the town signs away its interest in the Ulster Landing Road property,” McDonough said.

Town officials voted to begin negotiations for the new facility, which would require the granting of an easement to Ulster County.

The current fire training facility includes a two-story burn building, a two-story training tower, and a 2,100-square-foot administrative building, around half the size proposed in the new plans.

Jared Mance, a first assistant chief with Spring Lake who also sits on the Ulster Fire Training Center board, credited town officials with helping keep local needs in the greater conversation.

“I want to publicly thank the supervisor and the other members of the town board for the support in the matter of developing the Ulster Fire Training Center to a county training facility,” Mance said. “We very much appreciate your support and guidance in this matter, and hopefully it’s a successful project.”

McDonough, though, stressed that the town should ensure anything agreed to is put in writing every step of the way.

“Discussions about a county training center have been occurring for 40 years,” he said. “I would caution the town board that agreed upon the terms between all parties involved should be memorialized in writing and be part of any easement or other document where the Town of Ulster is signing away their rights and interest in the Ulster Landing Road property. This is absolutely needed since the last year has shown us that misunderstandings can lead to such an important project falling apart before our very eyes.”

Town Supervisor James Quigley III said that the matter was raised in part to put it on the clock for further discussion soon.

“I’m making the presentation tonight so that the board members may have the opportunity to study the matter, and I’m going to ask for consideration at a future meeting,” he said.

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