Governor Cuomo Steps up with Funding for Keene Firehouse

Governor Cuomo Announces up to $640,000 in state Funding for the Replacement of the  Keene Firehouse. The funding will allow construction to move forward on the town’s new firehouse, one year after the station was washed away by Hurricane Irene.

The Keene Fire Station was destroyed on August 28, 2011 by Tropical Storm Irene, and construction on a new building was originally scheduled to begin this month. WNBZ reported earlier in August that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would not approve the funding necessary for the project to move forward. The action taken by the Governor closes the funding gap and allows contracts to be signed.

The Governor tells WNBZ in a statement “This announcement will put in place the last missing piece of the funding to allow the Town ofKeeneto build a new firehouse and restore a vital piece of infrastructure that was destroyed by Hurricane Irene.” When disaster strikes, he says,  and help is needed, “we come together as one and step up to the plate to do whatever it takes to rebuild stronger and better than ever before.”

The total project cost is estimated at $2.3 million. Insurance on the Fire Department covered $635,000, town voters approved a $500,000 public bond, and in December 2011, the Town ofKeenereceived a grant notification of $680,000 from FEMA. However, FEMA recently reduced the committed grant, leaving the Town without the necessary funding to begin the project.

The funding announced by the Governor will cover the $340,000 reduction by FEMA, and add an additional $300,000 to reimburse the Keene Fire Department for the cost to acquire the new land where the firehouse will be built. The $640,000 is funded through the NYS Office of Community Renewal.

Senator Betty Little says “The FEMA withdrawal was going to be a devastating blow to Keene’s recovery efforts.” And she continues by saying “This money will help communities across this region rebuild and recover better and stronger than before.” Little praised The Governor and his team saying they’ve stepped up to the plate once again and thanked him for his dedication to theNorth Country.”

Randy Douglas is Jay’s Town Supervisor and Chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors. He says “In the year since Hurricane Irene swept through the Keene Valley and devastated communities in the North Country, Governor Cuomo has been a true friend and tireless leader, taking unprecedented steps to ensure that our towns and villages received the support from state government they needed to rebuild.” Governor Cuomo has also been an instrumental resource to our local government to assure that funding was available to re-build theKeenefire house, as well as many other public infrastructures. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Governor and his administration for stepping up to the plate. OurEssexCountyresidents will once again have a station inKeenethat serves and protects them in a timely fashion because of his leadership.”

Keene Town Supervisor Bill Ferebee says “[The check] will help us continue rebuilding our town after the destruction of Hurricane Irene. A year ago, as flood waters swept through the streets, it seemed that hope was lost, but the Governor and his team have been here on the ground to help us respond, clean up, and start to rebuild. And now he has come through again — providing us with the funds we desperately need to finish rebuilding our community and putting the shovels in the ground for our new firehouse.”

Assembly Member Teresa Sayward said, “Last year Hurricane Irene devastated many towns throughout theNorth Country. The Governor has taken unprecedented steps to ensure that the communities destroyed by the storms receive the support from state government they need to rebuild. His help is proof of his continued commitment to helping us revitalize our businesses and reconstruct our homes. I Thank Governor Cuomo and his administration for keeping his promise to the North Country andNew York.”

The Governor’s actions come days before the original bids on construction of the new firehouse would have expired. Without the state’s expedited action, the contracts would likely have had to go back out to re-bid, delaying the critical project’s start by months if not longer. With the funding announced today, construction on the new firehouse is expected to be completed by next Spring.

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