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Old Colonie homes get new life as training structures

When the Willey family built two homes on Old Niskayuna Road in 1912, their plan was to inhabit the homes, working the nearly 50 acres of farmland that stretched behind the adjoining yards.

They could never have guessed the homes would be put on moving trucks and transported to the Town of Colonie Municipal Training Facility on Wade Road to be used for emergency services training operations.

The two homes were bought by Peter Campito, managing member of Campito Properties, LLC, after being vacant since 2005. At the time of the purchase, Campito said the properties were worth about $200,000 each.

Mary Willey said her husband was the last person in the Willey family to own and live in one of the homes, aside from her mother in-law, before they were sold to Campito.

Campito decided to donate the homes after he was approached by the municipal training facility and asked if the houses could be used for training purposes.

After speaking with several moving companies, Chief of the Town of Colonie Department of Fire Services Peter Lattanzio said the town learned it would be possible to pick up the homes and move them to a new foundation intact.

New York State Assemblymen Bob Reilly, D-Newtonville, and Jack McEneny, D-Albany, worked with Town Supervisor Paula Mahan to find funding for the move. The assemblymen pledged to contribute matching amounts to the project.

While the amount of funding the assemblymen will be contributing has not yet being announced, Lattanzio said the project will be able to help emergency services departments in the town in so many ways.

We're going to set them up just like residential homes, he said. "We want to create realistic atmospheres."

Lattanzio said that while the houses will not be burned for practice involving the fire department, the homes will be piped so that theatrical smoke can be used to provide the illusion of a fire.

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