After design revisions, public hearings and compromises, Bedford Village voters easily approved construction of a new $14.8 million fire station during a special election on Tuesday, Jan. 14.
A spirited social media campaign helped attract nearly 100 more people to vote this week than last spring, when a $17.5 million bond proposal was defeated by 32 votes.
On Tuesday, 895 residents voted to support the spending plan. An unofficial total of 457 Bedford voters were against the new firehouse.
It will be built on a 10-acre site at 550 Old Post Road, better known as Route 22, south of its intersection with Route 172.
The vote took place at the Bedford Presbyterian Church, 44 Village Green.
The costlier, slightly larger version of the project was defeated on April 30, 2019 by 651 to 619 votes.
Bedford's current fire station is 91 years old. It is wedged between the Bedford Public Library and the U.S. Post Office. The future use of the historic building is undecided.
The project attracted support from a nationally known political figure: Ari Fleischer of Pound Ridge, former press secretary to George W. Bush, promoted the bond issue on the village's Facebook page.
"I think the fire department listened and did their best to reduce costs and respond to the prior vote,” Fleischer wrote. “Bedford is a beautiful town and it deserves a fire department we can be proud of.”
The current firehouse is extremely crowded and fails to comply with federal requirements for accessibility. The firehouse is so outdated that the BFD’s six pieces of EMS and firefighting apparatus are parked three-deep in a single bay, with turnout gear stored in portable lockers between the trucks. The bay also lacks exhaust fans for diesel fumes.
The new building would include a bunk room, a decontamination area for firefighters, training facilities and extensive storage for firefighting gear and equipment.
In 2018, the fire district initially proposed borrowing $15 million, but last spring upped the borrowing package by $2.5 million to cover the costs for a deep foundation required by soil conditions at the site for the new firehouse.
Paying off the bond would increase annual property taxes about $260 for a homeowner with a house valued at $700,000, according to fire department officials.
Additional project details can be found by clicking here.