New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was in the Adirondacks today to cut the ribbon for a new firehouse and get an update on a road construction project.
Three years ago, Tropical Storm Irene barreled through New York, wreaking massive damage in Essex County. The rural Adirondack region saw homes flooded and basic infrastructure demolished. Essex County Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas emotionally recalled the storm. “The Ausable River rose to heights never seen before. Flood waters were ripping apart our homes, our public infrastructures, our businesses, our roads, our bridges, our culverts, our youth facilities, our libraries. When daybreak came on August 29th the town was torn apart. Within hours, equipment, the National Guard, DOT, SEMO, FEMA, commissioners from state agencies, Senator Little were assigned to make our lives a little bit easier.”
Among the infrastructure lost were fire department structures. Last September, Governor Cuomo announced a $1.5 million Community Development Block Grant to help rebuild the Upper Jay Fire Station.
The $2.7 million project included purchasing new land on higher ground, demolishing the old condemned facility and constructing the new building. $1.2 million was obtained from insurance, municipal bonding, funds raised in the community and FEMA.
Governor Cuomo says the building shows that they have built back better and stronger. “It was your determination. It was your passion. It was your leadership that made this a reality. Just as you put this building together you’re rebuilding the North Country. All the numbers are great. Tourism’s up. The sales tax is up. Last year we had the largest one year drop in unemployment in upstate New York since they’ve been keeping numbers. Congratulations on this firehouse. Congratulations on all your progress over the past three years. Congratulations for what you’re doing as a community and what you’re doing as a united force.”
Members of the Upper Jay Fire Department, regional officials and the governor cut a ribbon to officially open the new facility.
Following the formalities at the fire station, Governor Cuomo proceeded to the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway for a status report on road reconstruction. Last November, he announced $12 million in funding to refurbish the eight-mile long road to the peak of the mountain. NYS DOT Executive Deputy Commissioner Phillip Eng notes workers are juggling several challenges including weather. “This project has challenges that are unique to Whiteface Mountain. Extreme temperatures. A short construction season. Unpredictability of the weather. Environmental sensitive issues working in an area like Whiteface Mountain. And then of course, trying to accomplish this project on time as well as insuring that the public can still use this facility.”
The Upper Jay Fire Station is the second fire department in Essex County to receive funding to rebuild following Tropical Storm Irene. The Keene Fire Station received $825,000 from New York State to help with its reconstruction.
The two-year Whiteface highway repaving project will also fix the rock walls along the route.