2009-01-23 / Community

Weiner Tells City To 'Cut Red Tape' On BCVFD Firehouse

By Howard Schwach

Congressman Anthony Weiner has a message for City Hall and the Department of Transportation in regard to a new firehouse for the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department.

"The plans are drafted. The money is waiting. Only you can cut the last piece of red tape. I encourage you to do so at once.

"The Broad Channel Fire Department is a terrific organization that serves a lifesaving function; providing emergency response to an isolated part of our city," Weiner said in a letter to DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. "The only obstacle to federal dollars coming to New York City is a sign-off by the Department of Transportation."

So far, however, the DOT has refused to sign off on the utilization of $2 million that Weiner and Senator Hillary Clinton built into the 2005 federal omnibus transportation bill.

Since that time, the volies have been meeting with city officials, working their way through the piles of paperwork necessary to get the money promised by the federal legislators.

Because the money was provided by the federal transportation act, the final step in the process had to be an approval by the local transportation agency - the city's DOT.

"We were right on the goal line, waiting to score," says the volies' chief, Daniel McIntyre. "We were this close and the city took its ball away."

"The money expires at the end of this year," he added. "If we don't use the money by the end of this year, it's gone and we've been working hard on this for four years."

Mark La Vorgna, a spokesperson for the mayor's office, said that the city would not support the plan for a number of reasons.

He said that the city believes that the cost of the new facility will be closer to $5.9 million, nearly twice as much as the volies say it will cost, and much more than they have in hand for the project, even with the federal funding.

La Vorgna argues that should the city give the go ahead, it would be responsible for the remainder of the funds.

The volies dispute that contention. "The city can't build anything cheaply," a spokesperson said. "We can do it for far less than they can."

In addition, the city's Fire Department refused to back the plan, saying that any money coming to the city for fire protection should go to that agency rather than to the volies.

The present firehouse on Noel Road in Broad Channel was built in 1904.

The property on Cross Bay Boulevard that the volies purchased a number of years ago sits fallow, awaiting a new facility .

Meanwhile, Weiner says that the volies deserve a new firehouse and he will work to see that they get one.

"This money is coming to New York to improve vital emergency services," he said. "I am prepared to find alternative funding for a new firehouse [should the city not come through].

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