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$22 million firehouse under consideration by East Clinton FD

Fri Jul 8th, 2016

At the June board meeting of the East Clinton Fire District, Steve Forschler, one of the five district commissioners, revealed that the estimate to build a new firehouse came in at $22 million.  The estimate shocked the residents that were in attendance, provoking incredulous laughter.   

ECFD chairperson Stephanie Bonk verified the estimate.  Mrs. Bonk, whose husband Russell Bonk, also serves as an ECFD commissioner, had, to date, refused to release the plans for the new ECFD firehouse that had been mentioned at public meetings but the full details of which had not been disclosed. 

She insisted that a FOIL request is required for the plans. She refuses to say why. Mrs. Bonk also denies they are "plans," She refers to them as "schematics," but they apparently include renderings, elevations and floor plans.

The plans were prepared for the ECFD by the architectural firm Liscum McCormack VanVoorhis LLP, of which Dutchess County Republican Committee chairman Michael McCormack is a name partner. He is also the brother of ECFD Fire Company Captain Tim McCormack. The name of the firm was revealed, but the plans have not yet been made public. 

There was strong community attendance at the June ECFD meeting. Residents expressed concerns that the ECFD Board of Commissioners lacks the management skills needed to effectively work with an architectural firm at the outset of a major project.  The Board did not disclose how Liscum McCormack VanVoorhis LLP was selected as the architects for the new firehouse, or if other firms were considered.

A few years ago the ECFD Board spent  $215,000 in public funds to purchase a four acre parcel near, but not contiguous, with the existing fire district property as a site for a new firehouse.   

Ms. Bonk has announced that Arthur Weiland, the only commissioner who is not also a member of the fire company, may not set foot in the firehouse.  She asserts that he is not covered by the liability insurance policy.   

There are about 4,000 people in 1,500 households in the Town of Clinton, which has two fire districts and currently three firehouses. Absent plans to close the existing ECFD firehouse, a new ECFD firehouse would mean that 4,000 residents are "served" by four firehouses.  At this time there is no active talk of consolidating the two Clinton fire districts.  The terms of Mr. Bonk and of the district treasurer end this December.  The district election is the second Tuesday in December. 

This article based on the reports of residents of the ECFD who were in attendance.