R oughly a year after passing a resolution to move into the Skenesborough Fire Department and more than two months after expressing its renewed interest in making the move, the town remains in the Canal Corp Visitor’s Center, hamstrung by the same issues that have delayed the move since day one.
Supervisor Richard “Geezer” Gordon reiterated on Friday the town’s desire to move into the Skenesborough Fire Department but said they will not do so until the Skenesborough Volunteer Fire Company votes on whether or not they will dissolve.
“They’re holding it up with the vote. It’s all in their hands,” Gordon said.
Skenesborough Chief Michael Putorti said the department is expected to vote whether or not to dissolve later this month, but said the biggest challenge to the town moving is the village’s refusal to remove the “reverter” clause until a vote occurs.
Putorti said he has no idea how the department’s vote will shake out, calling it a “50-50 deal.”
Regardless of their decision, he maintains that fire departments agreement with the town still stands.
“As far as the town moving in there, they can move,” Putorti said. “Our vote shouldn’t have a bearing on it way one way or the other.”
Mayor Peter Telisky said the village will do its part to turn over the building to the town once the fire department votes on dissolution.
“The position we have is we are still waiting. We’re not standing in the way; it would be great for this to move forward.” Telisky said. “But they (the fire department) have to take the next step; they have to make the decision whether they will dissolve. When that happens the village will do their part to turn the building over to the town.”
Telisky said he is unsure what the village would do if the department doesn’t vote to dissolve, but assumes the town wouldn’t move.
He said department members have worked hard over the years to build the department and the firehouse and that ultimately they need to make the final decision on what to do.
Gordon said he has spoke with officials from the NYS Canal Corp. who said they will continue to have patience as the town seeks to find a new home.
The town has maintained since day one that they wouldn’t move into the fire company unless they were given clear-cut ownership of the firehouse from the meeting room to the northern end of the building (the fire company would maintain ownership of the bays and meeting room), an agreement the fire company is amenable to.
However, under the current deed, should the fire company cease to exist, the property would revert to the village, a major sticking point for the town.
In August the village passed a resolution that would nullify that clause in the deed if the SVFC voted to dissolve and the town agreed to make annual payments of $20,000 (capped at a $150,000) to the SVFC or to a joint fire district if and when one was created.
If the fire company chooses to dissolve and the town moves into the building, it’s possible that the village could eventually make the move with the town as well.
However, Telisky said the only way a move could happen is if the town received outright ownership of a building. If the move to the fire department falls through, and the town were to lease a building elsewhere, the village would not come.
Some have raised the question of what happens to the Canal Corp. Visitors Center once the town moves since the village has been responsible for its upkeep during their time in the building. But Gordon said he received assurances from the Canal Corp. that the state would reassume responsibility for the building.