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Rescue squad gets loan OK to buy building

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OGDENSBURG — The Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad has been approved to borrow $1.6 million in federal funds to buy the former Hacketts store at 1223 Pickering St. for its new headquarters.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development is the source of the loan, which the squad will pay back over 30 years.

Squad Director of Operations Kenneth J. Gardner said the timetable calls for closing the purchase of the building for $740,000 and hiring a contractor by the end of summer. Renovations should be done by December.

The 59,925-square-foot building will replace the squad’s smaller headquarters at 101 State St.

“This is something that is much needed,” Mr. Gardner said.

The squad will use about 24,000 square feet of the building and rent out the rest. There might be a need for more space in the future.

“We finally have a building that is expandable,” said Grover B. Katzman, the squad’s building committee chairman.

The new building proposal has been controversial. Residents of nearby neighborhoods on Pickering and Gilbert streets support the squad, but worry that its ambulances will be noisy and cause traffic congestion. A series of public meetings over the last few months was aimed at calming fears.

Mr. Gardner said he hopes the meetings succeeded.

“We were trying to give them facts and information,” he said. “I think they will be pleasantly surprised.”

The squad also expects to save about $3.5 million; the cost of building a new headquarters on Route 812 just south of the city line was estimated at $5 million.

The existing headquarters is on land owned by the Ogdensburg Housing Authority.

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