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Commissioners To Regroup Following Chappaqua Firehouse Expansion Defeat

Long lines were reported at the Oct. 25 referendum on the proposed Chappaqua firehouse expansion, which was rejected by voters.
Long lines were reported at the Oct. 25 referendum on the proposed Chappaqua firehouse expansion, which was rejected by voters. Photo Credit: Maggie Christ

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- Members of New Castle Fire District No. 1's Board of Fire Commissioners will hold a special meeting on Sunday, Nov. 6, to discuss strategy following last week's defeat of a proposed expansion of the Bedford Road firehouse by voters.

The special meeting is set for noon and will be held in the first-floor meeting room of the firehouse.

Commissioners will discuss what to do next with the district's contract to purchase the Chappaqua Animal Hospital site, Commissioner and Secretary Nancy Zezze told Daily Voice.

The animal hospital site was needed in order to expand the firehouse. Voters rejected a separate proposition to purchase the property, although it was defeated by a much narrower margin that the expansion itself.

The purchasing contract expires on Nov. 14, board Chair Chris Weddle previously said. The site's current ownership previous offered month-to-month extensions at a monthly rate of about $10,000, although it is not clear if that offer is still on the table.

The commissioners will also discuss the process of holding elections in the future, Zezze added. The board was criticized by voters for only having a 3-hour voting window for the expansion referendum. The window, which ran from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., was accompanied by hour-long lines.

The 3-hour window is the minimum allowed under state law, although the board could vote to voluntarily extend it, so long as the hours are consecutive. Weddle previously told Daily Voice that he is open to an extension, provided that polling volunteers are willing to stay for the whole time. State law prevents the fire district from substituting volunteers to work in shifts, Weddle said.

The next election in the district will be on Tuesday, Dec. 13 for a pair of board seats. One seat, which is currently held by Weddle, will be for a full 5-year term, while the other, which Zezze occupies on a temporary basis following last year's death of Commissioner Gerry Golub, is for the remaining three years of the current term.

Beginning with the December election, voters in the fire district will also no longer be able to cast absentee ballots. Weddle said that he voted for doing away with absentee voting because he claimed that it presented a way of "manipulating the system."

Coincidentally, New Castle's local League of Women Voters chapter will be holding an information session on fire-district elections later on Sunday afternoon. It is scheduled to run from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Scattered Books in downtown Chappaqua. Information can be found here.

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