2009-01-02 / Front Page

FD Puts Kibosh On BCVFD Firehouse

By Howard Schwach

The Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department's dream of one day operating out of a state-of-the-art firehouse on Cross Bay Boulevard seems to have been ended by officials of the city's fire department, who indicated this week that the federal funds for the firehouse would be better spent for them.

Congressman Anthony Weiner, right, presents a copy of the Omnibus Transportation Bill with the allocation for a new firehouse for the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department to Chief Thomas Larkin in 2005. The hope for the new facility has now been dampened by the city's fire department.
"The fire department already provides more than adequate coverage in that area," a fire department spokesperson told James Angelos, a reporter for the New York Times. "Any additional funds allocated for fire protection in the city, especially in these difficult financial times, would be best utilized by the FDNY."

The mayor's office apparently agrees, arguing that the volies have greatly underestimated the cost of its new firehouse.

An official said that the volies have budgeted $2.6 million for the project, but that city experts believe that it will cost upwards of $5.9 million to complete.

"Under our sponsorship, the city would be responsible for the additional funds," the official said.

He added that the failure of the fire department to support the project put the final nail in the volie's coffin.

"There is a significant cost to the city for sponsoring the proposal," the official said. "Considering that the FDNY does not support the proposal, we can't justify the expense."

The dream of a new firehouse began in earnest in 2005, when Senator Hillary Clinton came to Broad Channel to commemorate a new Korean War Veterans Memorial in the island community.

When she saw the old, dilapidated firehouse and heard tales of how vital the volies were to the community, she promised that she would help them get a new facility.

Clinton and Congressman Anthony Weiner came through, placing approximately $2 million in the following year's Omnibus Transportation Bill.

Because the money was placed in a transportation bill, the city's Department of Transportation had to approve the expenditure, something that it now refuses to do.

And, that refusal could well kill the entire project.

"We got water thrown on us," Dan McIntyre, the chief of the small volunteer department, said. "We were that close to scoring, we were right there."

Some residents dispute the fire department's contention that the community gets adequate coverage from the city's fire department.

"The nearest ladder companies are on Beach 116 Street in Rockaway, a little less than three miles away, and they have to go over a bridge to get here," one resident, who asked not to be identified, said. "The nearest ladder company in Howard Beach is more than 3 miles away. How is that adequate coverage?"

McIntyre said that the volies have not yet received an official explanation from the city.

"We have heard all sorts of rumors," he told The Wave. "We're still not sure what's going on and who killed the deal."

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