Open letter to the Village of Scotia

May 10, 2020

As everyone knows by now, The Village of Scotia desperately needs to upgrade Village Facilities.  The last time we spent any money in major improvements was 1928.  For the last two years we have been working actively, first with a group of citizen experts and then with two professional teams to get a plan and a location.  We now feel that we have a path forward that will fill the community’s needs for many years to come.  The plan is to build a new fire station where the Collins barns once stood next to the library and renovate the current building to house police, clerk and court.   The current design for the firehouse is still in development, but the idea is to have it in the section bordered by Collins Street, Mohawk Avenue and the current parking lot for the library.  The trucks will exit onto Collins Street and proceed to Mohawk Avenue.  This will shield the park and the library from the day to day activity of the fire department.  This will also allow us to keep the line of trees along Mohawk Avenue, have a sizable location for the Veteran’s memorial between the station and Mohawk Avenue and still keep the new building from encroaching on the current library parking lot.  Everyone involved is sensitive to the diminution of park land, but this is an underused corner of the park and we will replace it with a parcel of considerably more value and utility.  The availability of property big enough for our purposes and easily accessible to the arteries of the Village leaves us with no other acceptable alternative.

The other wrinkle is that we have an application in to the State Legislature for permission to use an area of parkland for other than park purposes.  It looks likely that the legislature will not convene this year and, if they do, our request will not be on the top of their list.

So, what to do next?  We had a bond referendum vote scheduled for April 7 which fell victim to the Corona Virus.  Time is very critical on this project and every month of delay could cost us a lot more money.  In talking to people, we feel that an overwhelming majority of residents understand and agree that the Village needs to improve facilities for the health and welfare of Village employees and Village residents.  We feel that we have examined every possibility and scenario and have arrived at the best solution.  Since we are now beyond the time for possibly getting a building started this year we have decided to schedule a referendum for August 11 and hope that the continuing virus threat will let us do it. If for any reason we are unable to have a vote August 11 we will consider a bond resolution by the Board of Trustees at our August 12 regular meeting so that the project does not get any further behind.

The parkland question is a little different. We firmly believe that this project is a public benefit and that the final result will be a net improvement to the Village’s parkland. We also believe that the NYS Parks and the State Legislature will agree with us. Since it is operationally and monetarily disadvantageous for us to wait for the year that this process might take, we have decided to go ahead and get permission after the process is started.

So, why do it this year instead of next year?  First and foremost, we really, really need it now.  We have had to move one fire engine out of the fire house because the floor is deteriorating.  This does help with the danger of an overcrowded fire station but does nothing for response time to have to drive to Public Works to get the engine.  Costs increase every year so doing it now is cheaper than later.   Another major advantage of doing this now is that we expect bond rates and construction rates to be low this fall.  Also the Village can help to stimulate the economy by providing construction jobs in these difficult times.  The tax implications of this project will not be felt for another year or two so we should all be better able to afford the additional burden which is the natural result of 100 years of deferred investment.

We ask for your support and understanding in this endeavor.

Tom Gifford

Mayor of Scotia


Office (518) 374-3195