Plans to sell the single-family home on the town’s Old Pound Road property to the Pound Ridge Fire Department appear to be falling through, according to several people familiar with the situation.
“We were, and still are, very much in support of helping them retain members and recruit new members by having affordable housing options,” said Carla Brand, co-chair of the Old Pound Road Committee. “But we felt it was premature to limit the options that we would have on the property by selling the house at this point,” she said.”
The Pound Ridge Town Board closed a deal to acquire the parcel at 7 Old Pound Road, Pound Ridge, in July 2020. The transaction was relatively quick for the board, which first announced its intent to purchase the property in May of that year. Situated on Route 137 between the Town Park and Historic District, the purchase was described as “a once-in-a generation opportunity” by town officials, who felt it important to protect such a large parcel in this location rather than risk letting the property revert to private ownership. The property spans three total parcels at approximately 21.34 acres and includes a single-family, three-bedroom ranch-style home.
Shortly after the property was acquired, Town Supervisor Kevin Hansan stated that first priority for the residence at 7 Old Pound Road would be to use it as housing for members of the Pound Ridge Volunteer Fire Department. At the time, town officials were under the impression the PRFD wanted to lease the home, not purchase it.
“We like the idea of the fire department being the tenant in that property,” Mr. Hansan said during a meeting on May 12, 2020. “They have been looking for low-cost housing in town for a number of years,” he added. Mr. Hansan said the Fire Department was considering signing a three- to five-year lease on the property, and, at the time, this arrangement seemed certain. However, the supervisor noted, “we haven’t done anything further than verbal agreements.”
During a recent conversation with The Record-Review, 2nd Asst. Fire Chief Jim Perry said the department currently has two separate houses it is renting and one apartment where volunteers can stay. In order to be eligible for the department housing, Mr. Perry explained, a volunteer must be qualified to pump and drive every truck in the fire station and available for shifts from 7 p.m. at night to 5:30 a.m. in the morning. “Our biggest problem is getting a truck on the road in the middle of the night. So, if you live there you have to commit to taking a certain shift and you have to guarantee to drive a truck,” Mr. Perry said.
The availability of housing is especially helpful for recruiting younger volunteers, enabling them to live in town at a reasonable price. “It helps a lot,” Mr. Perry said.
Chief James (Sam) Dodge echoed these points. He said the fire department was enthusiastic about the prospect of purchasing the residence at 7 Old Pound Road, which was the department’s intention all along, he noted. The department even lined up a mortgage lender to support its purchase plan, he added, but then came the news about the town’s change of heart.
“I don’t know what happened,” said Chief Dodge. “but the town opted not to sell it to the fire department.”
In the course of evaluating the property and its potential uses, Ms. Brand said the Old Pound Road Committee felt that it needed more time to evaluate the recreation potential of the site as well as options for creating direct access points from the property to the Town Park. “So, if we were to sell it to the fire department, we could potentially be limiting ourselves,” Ms. Brand explained. “What we wanted to do was give ourselves a couple more years to figure out a longer-term strategic plan for how the property is going to be used.”
The town has conveyed to the fire department that it is not currently in a position to sell, however, Ms. Brand added, “We’d love for them to buy it in the future.”
In the meantime, Ms. Brand said the town intends to rent the house. Ginnel Real Estate has agreed to represent the rentalpropertyat no cost to the town. “What we’re doing right now is just kind of putting the finishing touches on the house to get it in shape to rent, and then they’re going to be listing it,” Ms. Brand said.
There also have been changes in a community survey that was being prepared by the Old Pound Road Committee. It will now be combined with a Recreation Department survey. “We thought it was better that they combine it into one, and then essentially have one survey going out to residents that will help us get a better understanding of the overall priorities that residents have for recreation in Pound Ridge,” Ms. Brand said.
Many of recreation ideas the committee has discussed for 7 Old Pound Road would not necessarily have to take place on that property, she added. “Maybe it’s something that would be more appropriate to put into the Town Park or Sachs Park. So, we felt it would be better to learn about the resident’s overall recreational priorities and then we’ll think about the best way to execute them,” Ms. Brand said.