Firehouse financing approved
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Despite the need for an expansion, the project’s approval took three years of planning and waiting for the villages to sign off on the plans. Cedarhurst took a cautious approach in order to ensure that the financing plan was solid, Weinstock said. “We were very conservative with this,” he said, “and we saw there was a legitimate need.”
The process in Lawrence was a bit more contentious. When LCFD officials initially went to get the building permit on Oct. 17, they were told they would have to pay a $30,000 fee — 1.5 percent of the project’s estimated cost, village officials said.
For their part, Fire Department officials said that the village never mentioned such a fee. “Through all the negotiations, this was never brought up,” said Fire Commissioner Edward Koehler, addressing the Lawrence village board last week.
Lawrence Mayor Martin Oliner angrily fired back that the village has done “everything conceivable we can do,” including paying the largest portion of the financing, approving the needed variances and granting the use of village land. “It’s incredulous, unfair and inappropriate,” Oliner said of Koehler’s claim about the fee, which the mayor assumed the department was aware of. Sounding more conciliatory, Oliner added, “The lawyers haven’t drafted the documents yet. We want the project to happen.”
There was discussion of the village’s waiving 53 percent of the fee — the portion of the renovation project that Lawrence is funding. “We are very close to making this happen,” said Trustee Michael Fragin. “A fee should not be an issue.”
But the board ultimately made no decision on waiving part of the fee, and, McHugh said, the department paid the full $30,000 for the permit.