Chobani to help build New Berlin firehouse, community center

Artists rendering of the firehouse in New Berlin. 

A partnership between Chobani and several Chenango County businesses will provide a new firehouse and community center to the village of New Berlin, according to local officials.

“This is a dream come true for the community,” said New Berlin Mayor Terry Potter.

The firehouse and adjoining community center is the site of regular Halloween and Christmas activities and the annual harvest dinner, Potter said. Each event requires a delicate orchestration of the department’s trucks, which need to be pulled out, rearranged and strategically placed to accommodate the crowds.

Built in 1971, the original structure “has definitely served us well throughout the years,” Potter said, but has been a cause of growing concern among village leaders for more than a decade. Several cracks in the floor are progressively worsening and the walls bow out in some places, he said, “but given the amount of money that was needed, it was always just finding bandaids to make it work.”

“It’s our hope that our contributions to the shared effort will give village residents a new firehouse and community center they’ll be proud to call their own,” Chobani said in a statement.

The $900,000 project will be funded through a public-private partnership and will bear no impact on local property taxes, according to Potter.

The firehouse will be funded by a $150,000 grant secured by Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, through the State and Municipal Facilities Program and more than $200,000 in donations from several local businesses, including Preferred Mutual Insurance, Golden Artists, NBT Bank, Gates-Cole Insurance and New York Pizzeria, according to Potter.

The Chobani Foundation, which sponsored the construction of a new little league field for the village in 2011, will contribute $550,000 for construction of the community center.

A statement from the company reads:

“Nothing’s more important to us than our communities, and there are few places as special as New Berlin. After the mayor reached out and shared the needs of the village, we felt a responsibility to step up and do our part to help a community where so many have come together for a good cause.”

The company also partnered with, Michael O’Reilly, managing director of the Norwich firm Principle Design & Engineering, to design the project.

Design for the 7,000 square-foot firehouse includes six garage bays, offices and separate rooms for gear, meetings, training and storage, and the 2,400 square-foot community center will contain a kitchen area and large gathering space for local residents to host baby showers, birthday parties and fire department functions.

“This is really going to be a focal point for the community,” Potter said. “It’s going to be a pretty spectacular building to see, one of the first impressions made on people passing north through the village on Route 8.”

Construction for both the firehouse and community center is slated to begin later this year, according to Potter.

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.