Council adds restrictions to sale of four firehouses

New users limited to community services. On May 30, 2007, the City Council approved DCAS’ plan to dispose of four FDNY firehouses that the City closed for budgetary reasons in 2003 and 2004. DCAS originally proposed to sell the four firehouses at public auction with no restrictions. This resulted in opposition by local community boards and Borough Presidents Scott Stringer and Marty Markowitz. Prior to the Planning Commission’s hearing, the Mayor’s office proposed the formation of community steering committees to determine the best use for each firehouse. The Planning Commission thereafter approved the DCAS plan without modifications, in deference to the steering committees’ future determinations. 4 CityLand 55 (May 15, 2007).

At the hearing before the City Council’s Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions & Concessions, its chair, Council Member Daniel Garodnick, opened the hearing by explaining that the subcommittee would add restrictions to each application. With the firehouses at 120 East 125th Street in Manhattan, 58-03 Rockaway Beach Boulevard in Queens, and Brooklyn’s 136 Wythe Street, the Council would limit the sale to a community service provider. With Brooklyn’s 299 DeGraw Street, the Council would prohibit its sale, limiting DCAS to a ten-year lease to a community service provider, with two five-year options to renew.

Patrick Wehle of the Mayor’s Office for Legislative Affairs updated the subcommittee on the progress of the steering committees, explaining that each committee met several times over the past few months and RFPs for three firehouses would be released in the summer or fall of 2007.

Council Member James Sanders, Jr., whose district encompasses the 58-03 Rockaway Beach Boulevard firehouse, added that the community wanted a vocational school to meet the needs of the more than 30 percent of his constituents who receive public assistance. Several Brooklyn residents testified in support of the leasing restriction for DeGraw Street, stressing that the City must retain a hold on the property to ensure that it best serves the community.

Lieutenant Stephen Carbone, Vice President of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, testified in opposition to the sale of any firehouse. While the properties’ use by community services was a “common sense alternative,” slower response times and an increased workload for the fire department indicated a need for more firehouses. According to Carbone, the City should lease all the buildings until a future administration recognizes the need for additional firehouses and re-opens each location.

With the modifications, the subcommittee voted unanimously to approve. The full Council voted by 46-1-5 to approve with only Council Member Tony Avella opposed.

Council: 120 East 125th Street – Former Firehouse (May 30, 2007); Council: 299 DeGraw Street – Former Firehouse (May 30, 2007); Council: 136 Wythe Avenue – Former Firehouse (May 30, 2007); Council: 58-03 Rockaway Beach Boulevard – Former Firehouse (May 30, 2007).


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