By Stephen Williams
The Daily Gazette
GALWAY, N.Y. — The Galway Volunteer Fire Department is about to break ground on a new fire station, thanks to a $500,000 donation from a local charitable foundation.
The donation is the largest yet given by the Clayton and Katherine Dockstader Foundation, established a decade ago in the will of the late Galway village clerk and his wife.
Clayton Dockstader died in 2006, and people who knew him were surprised at the extent of his wealth.
The large donation is going toward the $2.1 million cost of building a new and larger fire station on West Street, one firefighters say is needed to meet the fire and emergency needs of a growing rural area in western Saratoga County.
"Our finances would not allow us to do this without the help of the Dockstader Foundation," said Greg Hammond, president of the fire company. "It is very generous of them."
The foundation on Tuesday gave the fire company $150,000, the first payment of four to be made between when the fire company secured financing and when a certificate of occupancy is issued for the new building.
"It's an important community service," said Julia Roy, president of the Dockstader Foundation. "The Dockstaders loved the community, and that's why we're giving back to it."
With the donation, Roy said the foundation has donated $1 million to community organizations in the Galway Central School District since it was established in 2007.
Clayton Dockstader died at the age of 96, leaving about $2 million to establish a foundation to provide funding for community services within the school district. Julie and Erik Roy, who were friends and neighbors of the Dockstaders, have been the primary managers of the foundation, which has also pledged money to the local ambulance corps, to school programs, local nature preserves, construction of a ball field, and to support the Galway Public Library.
Julie Roy said all the projects have been done in partnership with other organizations.
The fire company has secured $1.6 million in financing over 20 years to cover the remainder of the new station's cost. Hammond said there should be no property tax increases beyond the 1 or 2 percent per year already called for in the fire company's fire protection contract with the town of Galway.
Hammond said the fire company, which responds to about 200 calls per year, has outgrown the current station on South Street, which was built in 1963. It is having to store fire equipment outdoors, and the station has already a limited capacity to hold meetings and training classes.
With financing in place and the Dockstader gift, work is ready to go forward on a project the fire company started working on in 2009. "It seems almost surreal," Hammond said.
Contractor Munter Enterprises of Saratoga Springs is expected to break ground next week.
Hammond said the 11,825-square-foot building, with four truck bays, could be finished within about six months, though moving in could take longer.
"We're excited, but there's no point in moving in until everything is in the right place," he said.
The new station will have a shelter with electric generator for use during emergencies and power outages, and space for community meetings and regional firefighter training classes, Hammond said.
"This will help with training," Hammond said. "Getting training in this part of the county is tough."
He noted that the Galway Volunteer Fire Department also often responds to fire calls in West Charlton and Providence, neighboring rural communities with limited volunteer firefighting resources.
(c)2016 The Daily Gazette, Schenectady, N.Y.