New York state’s oldest volunteer rescue squad will have a little more room to serve modern needs through an approved expansion at its three-decade-old building.
The Guilderland Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday, Feb. 19, gave the final approval needed for Altamont Rescue Squad to start soliciting bids for an expansion. The squad’s building, located just beyond the village line on Route 146, required a special use permit and variances. ARS serves the village and portions of the towns of Guilderland and Knox, with those municipalities providing funding to the not-for-profit ambulance service provider.
“I think it will be a benefit for everybody,” Warren Quinn, chief of operations for ARS, said. “It is a very modest move (forward), too.”
The project is estimated to cost around $500,000, according to construction fillings listed online, and is primarily adding a third bay to house Guilderland’s emergency medical vehicle. The expansion will also add a third bedroom, more office space and an updated decontamination room, along with other workplace safety enhancements. Outside the facility, the driveway would be converted to a one-way, loop driveway.
ARS Board of Directors member Maureen Ramirez said the squad has two ambulances and the town provides a paramedic vehicle. The new bay would allow the town vehicle to come inside and turn its engine off. Medicine inside the town’s vehicle must be stored at certain temperatures.
“They require that the vehicle continue to run in order to keep the medicines at the proper temperatures — warm in the winter, cool in the summer,” Ramirez said. “Our initial desire was to try to be green; get it out and turn it off.”
CSArch Senior Associate Dean Whalen, representing the squad, said the site plan was largely unchanged, but four, large pine trees were added at the back of the property. The retention area for stormwater management was reduced and allowed the existing trees to remain, said Whalen, who is also an Altamont Board of Trustees member.
Ramirez said the building was last expanded in 1986. A previously completed feasibility study for the squad determined moving to another site was an option financially.
“We are very excited about the fact that the architect is adding an historical nature to the outside of the building,” Ramirez said. “Being that it is the gateway to the village, we are excited that it is going to be especially pleasing as well.”
After the expansion, the building and parking will occupy 82 percent of the lot, so a variance was required because 70 percent is the maximum allowed. A one-foot one-inch variance was also needed for the 15-foot side yard setback.
There were no comments during the public hearing Wednesday night. The town planner did not have any objections to the project.
A town-designated engineer reviewed the project’s stormwater management plan and determined drainage would generally be improved at the property, according to Board Chairman Peter Barber.
Construction is planned to start around late April and be completed in September. Quinn said the squad would likely get a mortgage on the expansion.
Roughly 60 percent of the squad is volunteers, Quinn said, while the remaining staff is paid to allow for 24/7 coverage.
The squad was formed in June of 1937 after the American Red Cross offered a 10-week course certifying the original 15 members, according to Altamont Mayor James Gaughan. In 1983, the squad broke off from the village fire department and the Altamont Ambulance District was formed.