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McKownville Fire District to Vote on Proposed New Firehouse

By Aedan Perry | April 22, 2024

Current Front Entrance of the McKownville Firehouse at 1250 Western Ave.

Photo Credits: Aedan Perry / The ASP

The McKownville Fire District will be voting this Tuesday on whether or not to completely rebuild their firehouse.

The fire district includes around 45% of the University at Albany’s Uptown Campus, and thus provides fire service for Dutch Quad and most of the Athletic Complex. According to Jim White, the commissioner of the McKownville Fire Department, "the University accounts for about 40% percent of in-district calls."

Their current firehouse at 1250 Western Avenue was built in 1967 and has begun to show signs of disrepair. Additionally, due to its age, it does not comply with local building codes or Accessible Design Standards, according to the McKownville fire department. 

"We asked a few different contractors about ways to renovate it,” White said, "but we would just have to revisit it in a few years anyways. A total teardown and rebuild would be cheaper in the long run."


This project would cost an estimated 9.4 million dollars, raised through an increase of local property tax, and is expected to take about 18 months to complete. 

The vote will take place this Tuesday from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for Guilderland voters living within the district. If it succeeds, most of the departments' equipment will be housed across the street at 1257 Western Ave. while construction takes place, according to the project website.

UAlbany, being a government entity, does pay taxes to the fire district. "The value of that property is tremendous," said White, "and it puts the tax burden on the other properties in the district."

At the same time however, White points out that many students serve as volunteers with the department.

"We give them fire service, and in return a lot of volunteers come from the university. We're a great feeder agency, too. A lot of students join companies back home, and we have some people now in FDNY."

UAlbany declined to comment on the vote itself, with University Spokesperson Jordan Carleo-Evangelist saying that UAlbany prefers to show deference to residents of the district.

Carleo-Evangelist did however say that "The McKownville Fire Department has been an outstanding partner to UAlbany ever since the university built its Uptown Campus in the 1960s – not just in terms of the dedication and bravery of its members but also through the volunteer opportunities that it has provided so many of our students over the decades."

White is optimistic about the Tuesday vote. "You always have some people who are going to oppose this sort of thing no matter what,” he commented, "but the majority of comments at our public meetings have been positive."


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