After a long delay, the Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department now has all the necessary funding for its $2 million project to bring its firehouse to modern times.
The Village of Lawrence Board of Trustees approved a resolution on Thursday allowing the mayor to sign contracts with the department to fund about 54 percent, or over $1 million, of the expansion project, as well as for another term of fire protection. The Village of Cedarhurst and the North Lawrence Fire District had previously approved their portions of the project.
“It took a lot of time and effort for both the fire department and the Village of Lawrence to come to terms with this agreement,” said LCFD Commissioner Edward Koehler. “After all is said and done, both the Village of Lawrence and Village of Cedarhurst as well as the North Lawrence Fire District will be totally satisfied with the outcome of this project and they will continue to receive what I believe is the best fire and rescue protection around.”
LCFD’s firehouse, which was built in 1902 and expanded in 1970, does not currently meet NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standards. Modern fire trucks cannot fit into its bays, potentially causing delays in response time and posing a hazard to volunteers, according to former Chief Joseph Sperber.
As part of the agreement, Lawrence will provide a 15-year loan to LCFD at a rate of about 5 percent, with the ability for the department to pay it off early or refinance at a later time for a lower interest rate. The new fire protection contract “will reflect an increase enough to cover the cost of the loan over 15 years,” Koehler said. LCFD also had to pay a to the village.
“We have brought closure to these items,” Lawrence Mayor Martin Oliner said at the Thursday meeting.
Construction has already begun, although there were some delays caused by weather and lack of funding. Koehler said it was important that the project move forward because any more delays could have raised the cost of the project significantly, as well as continued safety concerns for the membership.
“One just has to look back only a few months ago to see what this department has done, what we are capable of doing, and will continue to do for years to come through the dedication of our members, some whom have committed their entire life to this department,” Koehler said. “I would like to thank Mayor Oliner, [Cedarhurst] Mayor [Andrew] Parise and the Board of Fire Commissioners of North Lawrence for their support on this project and their continued support of the members of the Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department.”