Voters overwhelmingly rejected the Mattituck Fire District’s proposal to authorize a multi-million dollar expansion of its firehouse at the corner of Pike Street and Wickham Avenue Tuesday evening.
The proposition failed with 423 residents voting in opposition and 112 supporting the measure.
“The board is going to be very disappointed and will try to figure out what our next steps are,” district secretary Jessica Harris said on behalf of the board immediately after the votes were counted Tuesday evening.
The district hoped to fund a two-story addition to the western side of the existing building at the corner of Pike Street and Wickham Avenue. The proposal would allow the department to comply with ADA, OSHA and FEMA regulations, some of which it does not currently satisfy, according to the commissioners. Site plans called for four pull-through truck bays, a new community meeting space, a full kitchen, office and training spaces and gear storage areas for responders to change more safely.
“The engines are really tight, close together,” fire commissioner chairman Jason Haas previously explained to The Suffolk Times regarding the need for more space. “People are getting their gear on right next to the trucks while they’re pulling out on the ramp. We need more room.”
“We sucking in exhust while we’re getting geared up to save a house,” Mattituck Fire Department Chief James Cox said Tuesday evening. “It’s a little difficult … We’re not getting any younger. We’re in desperate need of volunteers and we’re in desperate need of space to move around in here.”
The project was projected to cost $15.5 million. The district looked to get approval for $13 million in bonds at a rate of 4.5% and repay it over 30 years. The district would fund the other $2.5 million from its capital reserves.
The expansion would have increased fire district taxes on 3,940 taxable parcels within the hamlet. Taxpayers would pay $17.22 for every $1,000 of assessed value on their property. With the average property in Mattituck assessed at $6,600, a figure that is calculated as a fraction of each property’s appraised value, hamlet homeowners would have paid an average increase of $114 beginning in 2025.
Diistrict voters previously shot down an $11 million capital bond referendum to expand the fire station, with 71 opposed and 50 in favor. After meeting with fire department members to learn what they hope to see in a new fire station, the district revised its plans with the hopes of bolstering the “yays” amongst its membership and the broader community.
On Thursday, the board welcomed the public into the firehouse for a discussion with its five commissioners and their team of consultants regarding the contentious proposal. Fifteen residents, including the department’s members, attended.
“‘Disappointment’ is not even the word,” Mr. Cox said. “I just wish people would have showed up to the public hearing to find out the true facts.”