PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – The Peekskill Common Council adopted three major pieces of legislation in its last meeting before Christmas.
The council voted to adopt a new residency requirement for the next city police chief and also voted to adopt the environmental impact statement for the new central firehouse and the eminent domain procedures for the firehouse project.
The residency resolution would amend the city charter. Under the proposed new rule, a new chief would have six months from the date he is appointed to become a resident of Peekskill. But the rule could be waived by a supermajority vote.
Peekskill Mayor Mary Foster said the council has been focused on the Peekskill Police Department in its search for a new chief to replace the retiring Eugene Tumolo.
"Right now the chief is still our chief and he has appointed a lieutenant (Lt. Eric Johansen) as the interim acting chief," Foster said. "And come January the council will need to make a decision whether we appoint him or someone else from the department as the police chief, and the residency requirement is important. We believe very strongly in that."
The city had a similar law on the books before Tumolo was made chief, but the previous version of the rule did not include a waiver clause. The city's corporation counsel recommended such a measure be included in the new law. Johansen is a Cortlandt resident and would have to relocate his family to the city if he was offered the chief position.
Foster said she was still reviewing the civil service process for hiring a new chief.
"We have two people already on the police chiefs (eligibility) list, and a new chiefs exam is being given this coming year, so we have to start sorting that out in January," Foster said.
Adoption of the fire station environmental impact statement is the latest step of a lengthy process that began in 2008. The city had considered renovating the existing facilities to bring them up to code, but it was eventually decided that a new central firehouse would be less expensive.
The firehouse is expected to cost about $15.6 million, which is a little more than $1 million over the estimated $14.3 million cost of renovating the existing stations. The city created a transfer tax on property sales and a 1 percent municipal tax increase to help pay for the new station.
All of the existing fire stations will be closed once the new station is built, except the Washington Street station, which will continue use as a substation.
"It has been a long process, and I think our consultants and our staff have done a great job responding to all the questions that were raised in the last public hearing back in September," Foster said.
Adoption of the fire station environmental impact statement clears the way for the city to begin receiving statements from involved agencies, after which the environmental review process can be completed.
The eminent domain resolution allows the city to acquire a portion of the Crossroads Shopping Center needed for the project if a sale of the property cannot be worked out with the owner.
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