2002-04-13 / Front Page

Opposition Grows To Firehouse Move Protest Scheduled for Saturday

By Howard Schwach

Opposition Grows To Firehouse Move
Protest Scheduled for Saturday
By Howard Schwach

A City plan to tear down the 70-year-old firehouse on Beach 59 Street and replace it with a new facility on Beach 48 Street has generated opposition from a number of firefighter and civic groups on the peninsula.

The plan would replace the present firehouse, built by local labor in 1929 at Beach 59 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard with a state of the art station to house both fire and EMS apparatus at 303 Beach 48 Street, north of the elevated structure, approximately one mile from the present site.

That move is being opposed by the United Firefighters Association, as well as by civic groups.

Tom DaParma is the Queens Trustee for the union.

"We know that the old facility has to be knocked down, we understand that," DaParma says. "We are opposed to moving the new house more than a mile east from the present site."

DaParma cites a number of considerations in the union’s decision to oppose the move.

"The major consideration is a safety one," he says. "There are 2,300 homes planned for the area just west of the present firehouse. What the city wants to do is to move fire protection farther away from those homes, farther away from Ocean Village."

"The present fire station on Beach 92 Street has an engine only, not a ladder truck. That area depends on Ladder 137 on Beach 116 Street and Ladder 121 on Beach 59 Street for its coverage. To move one of the only two ladder trucks in the area a mile farther east, away from the area, is not, in our opinion, the right thing to do."

Steve Cooper says that his Frank Avenue Civic Association is opposed to the move as well.

His organization has sent letters to the Queens Borough President and to the city planning agency stating that opposition.

"That Beach 48 Street site is right behind a nursing home," Cooper says. "The noise, the sirens, the commotion, will not be good for nursing home residents."

The group’s opposition, however, stems as much from the location as the noise problem.

The site of the proposed firehouse is in the Edgemere Urban Renewal Area and should be used for homes, not for a city facility," he says. "That is a problem and so is the fact that the move would make it more difficult for the new homes planned for the Arverne Urban Renewal Area to get fire coverage."

Firefighter John Olsen, who works at the 59 Street Firehouse, is opposed to the move as well.

"Our job success depends on our first-response time, and getting to the scene of an emergency as quickly as possible," he told a group at Ocean Village. "In the fire service, life and death is measured in minutes. The proposed move will take us one block north and 10 blocks east. This move will mean a slower response time to Ocean Village and to the new homes in Arverne. How much time that means is hard to say, but the move will probably add one or two minutes to our response time to Hammels, where we are the first due response ladder for that housing complex."

City officials would only say that a new facility is necessary, that it would be a hardship to maintain the present location while building a new firehouse at that spot. They also point out that there is limited space at Beach 59 Street, while there is more than adequate room at Beach 48 Street.

There will be a public protest to the move, sponsored by the 100 Precinct Community Council, at the Beach 59 Street site at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 13.

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