Burn Baby Burn!

Holy county jail!

Bids on the long-awaited Ulster County fire training center construction project were opened Thursday by officials and came in some 40 percent over estimates, according to witnesses in attendance.
The fire training center, under discussion for more than four decades and in the works for two years, is to be located at the town of Ulster fire training center off Rt. 32 near the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge.

County officials, working in conjunction with the Ulster Fire Chiefs Association and the town of Ulster, had estimated the project at $4.5 million. The bids from two Orange County general contractors for a three-story burn building and a separate administration building came in at almost $6,250,000. The burn building was bid at $5.5 million, renovation of an existing administrative building at $1 million. The county has already spent $750,000 on design and engineering.

The much-maligned county jail project, completed in 2007, came in some 30 percent over budget at some $92 million. 

The county’s planning and purchasing departments, which ran the project, had received authorization from the legislature to spend up to $4.5 million on the entire project, a figure fire fighter said was not sufficient.

“We’re in contact with a lot of fire departments around the state that have these facilities, and we know what things cost,” said Spring Lake Fire Department chief Jerimiah McDonough, who attended the bin opening.

County officials were not available for comment, but indicated at the bid opening, said the chief, that additions and/or deductions allowed in the bid process could change the bottom line.

“I think the county has to step up to the plate,” said Ulster town supervisor Jim Quigley, who also serves as president of the county Supervisor’s and Mayor’s Association. g

The fire training center has the- near unanimous support of the county’s 50 volunteer fire companies and numerous other organizations and individuals. Firefighters consider the training center “absolutely essential,” in McDonough’s words, to the safety of their volunteers and the communities they serve.

After reviews by legislative committees, the full legislature is expected to reconsider additional funding for the project at its regular meeting on June 18.   As such, it would be the first major issue faced by incoming county executive Patrick Ryan.

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