KERI P. MATTOX Business writer
Section: CAPITAL REGION,  Page: B1

Date: Monday, May 1, 2000

Colonie Residents will vote Tuesday on a $2.7 million bond as the Verdoy Volunteer Fire Department seeks funds for the construction of a new station on Old Niskayuna Road.

After selling its 33-year-old firehouse on Route 7 to Albany International Airport in 1998 for about $1.8 million, the Verdoy Volunteer Fire Department has remained in the old station, paying an annual rent of $1. But the 55-member department, situated at the foot of the airport's main runway, is scheduled to vacate the old station house this fall.

Fire Commissioner Robert Guzzo said the $2.7 million bond is needed to pay the estimated $4.7 million price for the new station -- a 21,500-square-foot building that more than doubles the existing station and would include four bays, office space and a kitchen.

With $1.8 million from the sale of the station and $2.7 million from the bond, if it passes, the additional $200,000 would come from capital accounts, Guzzo said.

Taxes are expected to increase $52 a year, from $87.80 to $139.80, for the fire district's residents, Guzzo said. The district covers about 7,500 residents in a 7.5-square-mile section of north-central Colonie, roughly between Albany Shaker and Wade roads south of the Mohawk River.

``All the commissioners are taxpayers also,'' Guzzo said. ``And I don't want any more taxes either. But this is only $1 (more) a week.''

The vote will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Verdoy Fire Station, 1026 Troy-Schenectady Road.

Verdoy has also had to purchase the land for its new station. The department bought a 3-acre parcel on Old Niskayuna Road for about $800,000.

The department may also need about $450,000 to purchase a 7-acre plot on Route 7 from the airport. The sale was discussed by the Albany County Airport Authority at its March meeting. Verdoy is looking to purchase the land -- at an estimated cost of $66,000 per acre -- for training exercises, airport officials said.

Verdoy's current station, at 8,000 square feet, is too small to house the ladder truck the department says it needs to fight fires in taller buildings like the airport's new air traffic control tower and the airport Hilton. Because the airport had condemned the airspace above the station to stem interference with landing planes, plans to expand the station were scrapped.

Funds from the Federal Aviation Administration were used to purchase Verdoy's five-bay station because the 10-acre parcel is located inside the airport's noise footprint, where the rumblings from airplanes are so loud that the FAA grants money to buy the land and buildings.

While most homes and businesses bought by the airport under the noise abatement program are torn down, officials have said the firehouse may be rented out for commercial use such as a storage facility. Staff writer Mike Fricano contributed to this story.