2010-08-20 / Front Page

BC Volies To Get New Firehouse

By Howard Schwach
The Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department will finally realize its dream of a new firehouse to replace the 105-year-old facility that now stands on Noel Road.

An artist’s rendering of the new firehouse planned for the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department. An artist’s rendering of the new firehouse planned for the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department. On Wednesday, State Senator Shirley L. Huntley announced a new amendment

S8060) to the public authorities law which provides the new facilities for Broad Channel volunteers.

“Under the Senate’s new law, Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department and Ambulance Corps are now permitted to proceed with construction of new capital facilities for their not-for-profit corporation. The bill is now currently in effect,” Huntley said.

Both Huntley and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer have been working to find a state sponsor for the construction project after the city turned the volies down in January of 2009.

The dream of a new firehouse began in earnest in 2005, when Senator Hillary Clinton came to Broad Channel to com- memorate 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.”

According to Huntley and Pheffer, prior to the passing of this amendment, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) was not authorized to provide construction related services to the Broad Channel Volunteers.

“This amendment gives our generous and dedicated volunteers the facilities they deserve to continue their commendable selfless efforts to not only better their communities but themselves,” said Senator Huntley. “These civic leaders should not have to be negatively affected by small unsubstantial setbacks that would further negate the good work that these volunteers achieve daily and I’m proud to say with the passing of this legislation that these issues will no longer be applicable.”

The new firehouse is slated to be constructed on Cross Bay Boulevard, on an empty lot just south of the American Legion Hall.

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