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The Village of East Aurora took a major step Monday night by approving $643,264 worth of contracts tied to the design of a new $5.3 million fire hall at 33 Center St. to replace the aging, cramped quarters on Oakwood Avenue.

The Village Board unanimously approved three contracts tied to the fire hall project, which has taken eight years to get to this point and have a site finalized.

“This does say good things for the village and ensures a village Fire Department for at least 50 years,” said Craig Thrasher, public information officer for the department.

The department recently took in 20 new members and has a total roster of 72, Thrasher said.

“It’s a good feeling [that] we’re actually moving forward,” Village Trustee Ernie Scheer said.

Thrasher thanked the Village Board for “getting the job done” so far. “Let’s hope in the next year, the village has something to be proud of,” he said of the new fire hall, which is slated for the site of a former dental practice that the village bought earlier this year.

The Village Board hired Rochester-based Bergmann Associates for $395,260 for the general design of the new central fire hall – not surprising, since Bergmann has been working with fire officials for a long time on preliminary steps in the project. The firm also received high marks from a village Design Selection Committee that said the firm seemed sensitive to what the community’s interests would be. The committee also cited the company’s strong experience with designing other fire halls.

The Village Board also hired LiRo Engineers for $215,304, for construction management; and C&S Cos. for $32,700, for site and civil engineering work.

Thrasher said he expects demolition of the dental building at the Center Street site to begin in early winter, with site preparation following from February to April.

Dan Castle, who headed the design selection panel and will serve as chairman of a newly formed Design Committee, said the committee was impressed with LiRo’s track record and noted that it had innovative ideas for the fire hall, such as using a spare wall as a fake elevator for training purposes for firefighters. He also said LiRo, which had the lowest bid, has contracts with fire halls in New York City.

Castle also said the village will bring in a certified arborist to examine tree species and conduct a survey to determine which trees are worth saving. The hope, he said, is to retain as many of the trees and as much of the landscaping as possible.

What form the design of the fire hall will take is not yet known, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if it reflects a Roycroft-style flavor.

“Why not?” Thrasher said, also noting the beauty of nearby Baker Memorial Church, with its stone edifice. At either end of the fire hall property, there could be stone pillars with Roycroft-style lighting, he said.

Thrasher noted that at one time, East Aurora had six fire departments, with one designated for the Roycroft Campus. The current department, all at Oakwood, has four companies.

email: krobinson@buffnews.com