Rescue squad gets OK to expand building

— Drawings submitted by CSArch

The Altamont Rescue Squad is expanding its building, beginning in April, to add a third garage bay, a third bunk room, and extra meeting and computer space. The outside of the building, said Maureen Ramirez, project manager, will also be updated to be “more aesthetically pleasing.”

GUILDERLAND — The Altamont Rescue Squad, the only volunteer rescue organization in the town of Guilderland, received approval last week for an expansion of its building.

The primary reason for the expansion, said Maureen Ramirez, a member of the rescue squad’s board of directors, and the project manager, is the necessity of a third garage bay.

The squad building currently has two bays, and the town’s emergency medical service truck, which also uses the building, must be left outside, running, to keep temperature sensitive medications safe, which means heat in the winter, and air-conditioning in the summer.

“I kept thinking to myself, ‘Why do we have this car running outside all the time?’” said Ramirez.

The proposed expansion — which will cost an estimated $500,000 —  also includes a third bunk room, extra meeting space, an updated decontamination room, a separate computer space, and a renovated kitchen.

The plans were put together by architect Dean Whalen, of CSArch, in Albany; Whalen is a village trustee.

The rescue squad will take on the mortgage, said Ramirez, and already outright owns its current building.

A not-for-profit entity, the Altamont Rescue Squad received $25,400 from the town of Knox, and $152,671 from the town of Guilderland, in 2013-14, for ambulance service.

“Our first priority has always been equipment, but we’ve finally arrived at a point where we’re in good shape, equipment-wise, so we thought we would make the building a bit more user-friendly,” Ramirez said. The project will also make the outside of the building aesthetically pleasing, she said, which is important, because it is “the gateway to the village.”

The building, located on Route 146, just outside the village, was last expanded in 1986.

The new expansion requires an addendum to the squad’s special-use permit, as well as a variance, because the building is already a non-conforming use, and the new building will occupy 82 percent of the lot, and the maximum occupation of 70 percent is the usual allowance.

The rescue squad was granted the permit addendum and variance at a zoning board meeting on Feb. 19, after the town’s designated engineer determined that there would be no significant stormwater impact.

The zoning board meeting was also intended to act as a public hearing, but no residents spoke about the proposed project, which Ramirez said was surprising.

“We were surprised that no one came to speak,” she said. “But, we generally feel very supported by the community.”

Ramirez said the Altamont Rescue Squad has always tried to be “a good neighbor.”

She said the squad will put the project out for bid within the next two to three weeks, and hopes to begin construction in April, and finish it by September.

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