Officials and residents of the Lido-Point Lookout Fire District will discuss an alternate plan to upgrade the district’s facilities at a public meeting Wednesday.
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Commissioner Chas Thompson said the purpose of the meeting — scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11 at the district’s main firehouse, 102 Lido Blvd. in Point Lookout — is to gain input from the public after residents in July voted 758-260 to turn down a $7.5 million bond proposal to repair and expand two of the district’s three firehouses that were damaged in Hurricane Sandy.
“We would like to tell the public what we need; then we want to listen to them,” Thompson told Patch on Monday.
The original bond was the first the district had ever proposed and the residents had expressed that they wanted more input on the proposal, Thompson said.
The proposal also called for demolishing the district’s Ye Olde Firehouse, a 82-year-old building located across the street from the headquarters building in Point Lookout, in order to construct a 1,900-square-foot fire district and command center. It also called for adding a second floor for showers and other amenities for the volunteer firefighters at headquarters.
After the district takes input from the community at Wednesday’s meeting and considers it, officials will probably hold another public meeting in January or February, with the purpose of developing a new plan and bond proposal.
“Right now, there is no concrete plan B,” Thompson said.
Thompson indicated, though, that the district maintains it needs to create more space at its buildings, and must perform maintenance repairs and upgrades at headquarters and the Lido firehouse, which both need new generators, as well as upgrade the district’s computer and communications systems.
The Ye Olde firehouse no longer serves any firematic purpose for the district and is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Thompson said. The district plans to meet with an architect to see if the building can be repaired to create space for the chiefs and maintain a public meeting room.
“We’re also looking into the historical aspect of the building, if one is there,” Thompson said. “A lot of people in town have ties to that building: they were married there and held family celebrations there.”
“We’re trying to be sensitive to their needs,” he continued, “and see if we can do it at a reasonable cost that’s not going take away from what we need to do firematicly.”Richard Zampella, president of the Point Lookout Chamber of Commerce, who was critical of the original plan, told Newsday last month that the public meeting is a good step. Zampella said: "The Board of Fire Commissioners has decided to turn to the community on issues that affect the quality of life in Point Lookout.”