2010-07-16 / Front Page

BC Volies On Track For New Firehouse

By Howard Schwach
If things go as planned, and Governor David Paterson signs a law that was recently passed by the state legislature, the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department will get to build the new firehouse they have been waiting to build since 2005.

An artist’s rendering of the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department’s new facility planned for Cross Bay Boulevard. An artist’s rendering of the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department’s new facility planned for Cross Bay Boulevard. “The problem was that none of the agencies in New York City would take responsibility for sponsoring the project,” Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, the sponsor of the new bill in the State Assembly, said this week. “The law requires a government agency to oversee the construction, and the Mayor turned the volies down.”

The new bill awaiting approval by the governor makes the State Department of Transportation responsible for the project. The construction will be controlled by the State Dormitory Authority, an agency with lots of experience in building facilities.

“We are moving forward, and the governor should sign the bill in the next few weeks,” Pheffer told The Wave on Tuesday.

The bill was sponsored by Pheffer in the Assembly and Senator Shirley Huntley, who represents Broad Channel, in the State Senate.

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 the agency refused to do.

In January of 2009, the city formally turned down the volies’ request because the New York Fire Department said that the facility was not necessary.

“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 at the time. “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 agreed, arguing that the volies had greatly underestimated the cost of its new firehouse.

An official said that the volies 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 volies’ 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.”

And, that refusal could well have killed 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.”

Now, under the sponsorship of the State DOT and the Dormitory Authority, the volies seem to be back in the game.

“We found a new way of doing it,” Pheffer said, “and we hope that the Governor will sign it,” pointing out that these days, nothing is sure when Albany politics is concerned.

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