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Rescue squad gets loan OK to buy building

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

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development office is the source of the loan which the squad will pay back in 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 current headquarters at 101 State St.

“This is something that is much-needed,” Mr. Gardner said, referring to the squad’s desire for more space.

The squad will use about 24,000 square feet of the building and rent out the rest. Yet 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 were aimed at calming the residents’ fears.

Mr. Gardner hopes they succeeded.

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

The squad will pay back the loan with cash, fund raisers and rent.

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

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

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