Plan sparks controversy

NORTH CREEK - Concerned citizens voiced dissent last week with the local emergency squad's plan to expand its portion of the "Boy Scout" building in Sodom.

Johnsburg Emergency Medical Services currently has a station at the town-owned building, which is often the site of children's birthday parties and social events.

Last month, squad officials proposed expanding their space in order to accommodate more sleeping quarters for its members.

The proposed expansion would reduce the square-footage of the adjacent public space by nearly one-third, according to floor plans the squad provided the town board.

The expansion would be financially shouldered by the squad, Johnsburg Emergency Medical Services spokesman Mark Bergman said at a town board meeting held March 17.

"We are trying our (best) to provide emergency medical service to this community," Bergman said. "We are just looking for the space we need - we are certainly not trying to compete with any other entity."

Several citizens said that the measure would be an example of the emergency squad getting privileged treatment not afforded to the Johnsburg Fire Department.

However, most citizens argued that it would simply be improper to take the space from the taxpayer, drastically reducing room occasionally used as a safety shelter for residents who lose their heat in the winter.

"I was really struck when I went over there and realized how much space would be lost," Councilman Ron Vanselow said.

The board sought a compromise, but apparently none could be reached.

"It simply wouldn't make economic sense to go any smaller," Bergman said.

However, not all squad members agreed with Bergman.

"I do believe that the squad needs more space, but not nearly as much as they are asking for," emergency responder Tara Sears said.

The town board did not vote March 17 on the proposed expansion, and the issue will likely be revisited April 7 at the board's next meeting, Supervisor Sterling Goodspeed said.

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