Will Coop, Oneonta Departments
Provide Ladder Trucks? Planners Ask
By PAT WAGER • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
HARTWICK – Emotional firefighters shared their worries about a proposed Hampton Inn & Suites’ four-story building with the Hartwick Town Planning Board this evening
“I’m one of the ones who will be entering the building if something happens,” declared Chris Doucas, Hartwick Company #2 first assistant fire chief. “ I think that what I have to say should count since I may die. We have to worry about our families.”
For at least two months now, Hartwick firefighters have been voicing their concerns about the building’s height, and also about having to rely on a ladder truck from either the Cooperstown or Oneonta fire departments if the hotel is built that high and a fire were to break out there.
Ed Cox, Hartwick #2’s second assistant fire chief, expanded the critique to include concerns about access and egress from the site, which is on a curve just south of the Dollar General, and across Route 28 from Paraco Gas.
“There is a lot of traffic there and propane delivery vehicles come in and out across the street,” Cox said. “When there are traffic accidents, we have to stand out in the road directing traffic. If the Planning Board approves a 4-story building there, we cannot currently provide adequate care to the hotel and the people and the Town of Hartwick shouldn’t have to bear the cost of a ladder truck.”
Patrick Benz of RFP Contractors, speaking for SkyLine Hospitality, the Hampton Inn’s developer, said, “We reiterate that the design of the hotel is up to and beyond code requirements and we will have a 30,000-gallon tank that will provide water for a long time in case it is needed. We are doing our best to make sure that the building is as safe as possible. “
The company’s chief, Dave Bryant, brought up the possibility of getting what he called High Rise Backpacks. “Those are kits the firefighters wear on their backs so they don’t have to carry hose up flights of stairs. The kit has shorter hoses that connect into stand pipes that on each floor at both ends.”
Skyline “would be willing to negotiate the purchase of these packs for the hotel,” Benz added.
Meg Kennedy, Planning Board member , returned to the traffic issue: “I feel we should address the traffic bottleneck in that area that a hotel would cause. Perhaps a traffic light can be considered.”
Benz responded: “The DOT will tell what they want since they are in charge of that decision, but they have approved the entrance.”
“The DOT doesn’t react to these situations until there is a death,” Cox chimed in. “And the DOT doesn’t always get things right. The house that is there creates a line-of-sight problem.”
The discussion was tabled for the Board to review SEQR Part 1, for which there were no major issues.
Greg Horth, Planning Board co-chairman of the Planning Board, said the board needs some reassurance on the firefighting situation.
“We’d like to see something in writing from the Oneonta Fire Department and the Cooperstown Fire Department concerning reaction times for their Ladder Trucks,” he said.