Town officials say the conversion of the old Miller Hose Fire Company building into the new Newfane Town Hall and Community Center will be completed in coming weeks -- months ahead of schedule and right on budget. And Main Street businesses eagerly await its opening.
"We're looking forward to it," said Glenn Peterson, whose family has operated Peterson Drug on Main Street for three generations. His pharmacy and gift shop is located directly across the street from the new Town Hall.
"We're excited to see the work over there," said Peterson. "The firemen were good neighbors, but this could bring foot traffic in with people conducting business at Town Hall, like paying their taxes or water bills, as well as foot traffic from the town employees.
"Newfane is a nice little community, and it's encouraging because people seem to be working very hard to keep people living here and spending their money here," he said.
The project architect, William L. Henderson of Clarence, predicted, "This will probably cause a resurgence of business for the downtown area. We hope this will become the center of focus for the town and it may bring a stability to the area businesses that they've never seen before."
"Now that you can see the front of the building taking shape, everyone on Main Street loves it," said Town Supervisor Timothy R. Horanburg. "I'm very pleased."
Horanburg said Newfane Town Hall took up residence in its current spot at 2896 Transit Road in the 1960s and previously occupied the building that now houses the VFW Post at 2789 Main St. "This was really our last chance to get [the town offices] back on Main Street, where we belong," he said. "And to get this property from the fire company -- which meant we didn't take the property off of the tax rolls -- was even nicer."
The town purchased the former fire hall and its one-acre site at 2737 Main for $225,000 in October 2007. It has taken out a 30-year, low-interest $1.6 million loan from the U.S. Agriculture Department's Rural Development Agency to cover the costs of the project.
The town also received grants from State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, and Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, D-Lewiston, and authorized $100,000 for the project from a $125,000 profit realized last year when the town sold cell phone tower rights.
"We're right on schedule with the money," Horanburg said.
And ahead of schedule with the renovations, which were projected to take up to a year. Work began Feb. 2, and town officials predict it will be completed in late October or early November.
"We have a good working relationship with the town and the architect," said Rick Robinson, construction superintendent for RW Construction of Orchard Park, the project's general contractor. "Anytime you take an old building, you run into different problems, but we work them out."
The old fire hall was built in 1952.
"We want to do it once and do it right," said Horanburg. "And the furniture is coming in a few weeks, so we'd better be ready."
Solar Liberty of Williamsville will soon begin installing a 30-kilowatt photovoltaic (solar panel) system, purchased with help from a $144,000 New York State Energy Research and Development Authority grant.
The Town Hall's main entrance is on Main Street, but a north side entrance is expected to be widely used because it provides access to ample parking. Coupled with the generous lot behind the building -- where the entrance to the Community Center is located -- the facility will accommodate up to 300 vehicles.
The town's senior citizens will use the Community Center as its new headquarters. It features a meeting room that holds up to 300 and an adjoining kitchen and pantry.
"They had been using the fire hall, then moved to a nearby church, so they're anxious to settle in here," Horanburg said. "We also have some nonprofit groups like the Lions Club and VFW who have shown interest in holding their meetings here."
Sue Neidlinger, president of the Newfane Business Association and owner of Shoppe on Main, said, "I am so pleased with the way this is coming together -- it is such an asset to Main Street. Someone said the other day that the new Budwey's [supermarket] was the first stimulus and this will be the second one, right in the center of town. These are two very necessary things for Newfane."