Left to right: Trustee Tom Butler, Mayor Drew Fixell, Fire Chief Robert Scogna and Trustee Clarice Pollack at recent ground breaking ceremony for new firehouse on Meadow Street. A group of residents protested against the location and lack of notification from Village Hall.
A group of residents waited for Mayor Drew Fixell and Tarrytown’s Trustees at the site of a proposed new firehouse for Consolidated Engine Company. Carrying hand-made signs that read, “Consider the Children,” “Safety First” and “2 Bay is the Way,” the Pennybridge residents made it clear that while they wholeheartedly supported the efforts of volunteer firefighters, they were angry at Village government for not notifying them of the plans to build a firehouse on Meadow Street, adjacent to the Elizabeth Mascia Child Center.
What was to have been a ceremonial ground breaking on Saturday, March 18, turned into a yelling match as the Mayor and Trustees were heatedly asked why no one in the neighborhood knew about the Village’s plans. The site for Consolidated Engine’s new building on Meadow Street is three-tenths of a mile from the proposed site of another new firehouse on Route 119, where Washington Engine Company will house their state-of-the-art ladder truck 78.
Until Mayor Fixell’s election in 2005, former Mayor Paul Janos and his administration had planned on building one, 2-bay firehouse on Route 119 that would accommodate both Consolidated and Washington Engine trucks. The arrangement of housing two companies in one building is not new to Tarrytown, for Hope Hose and Conqueror Hook and Ladder operate out of the same building on the corner of Washington and Main Street. In Sleepy Hollow, the Fire Patrol, Columbia and Pocantico Hook and Ladder all operate out of the firehouse on Beekman Avenue. In addition the neighboring communities of Briarcliff, Ossining and Croton-on-Hudson also have multiple companies within one building.
In August of 2002, the MMA Consulting Group out of Boston, Massachusetts submitted a report requested by the Village of Tarrytown, “regarding the location of fire stations in the Village.” The report addressed both the Consolidated Engine Company on Sheldon Avenue and the Washington Engine Company on Kaldenberg Place. With Consolidated, the consulting group considered whether the fire station should be rebuilt at its former Sheldon Avenue location or whether it should be relocated and housed with Washington Engine at a new location. MMA Consulting reviewed street network maps, visited the sites of both Companies, located the residences of volunteer firefighters and apparatus drivers and “drove through the Village and reviewed distances and travel constraints.” In summary, the report stated that Consolidated Engine’s old Sheldon Avenue fire station site was “not ideally situated,” and the relatively short distance between the old station and the proposed station on Route 119, (the new location) would be a better deployment model…” As for Washington Engine Company the recommendation was made to relocate the Company to Route 119 for a better distribution of firefighting resources. Therefore both Companies would share one building separated by a wall running the length of the building.
A letter went out to the Board of Fire Wardens stating that the Village had determined a savings of $230,000 or more by combining the two Companies in separate but equal quarters under one roof. Savings would occur by not duplicating construction costs, the installation of utilities, i.e. gas, electric, sewer, water, sprinkling systems and heating systems. The Board of Fire Wardens approved the plan according to former Trustee and volunteer firefighter, Domenic Morabito.
Shortly after being elected, Mayor Fixell and his new Board of Trustees requested that another “Fire Facility Study” be done and as a result redirected Village efforts by drawing up plans for two separate firehouses three-tenths of a mile apart. Citing savings of approximately $770,000 with the building of two firehouses versus one, Mr. Fixell could not appease residents, who addressed him at the election eve Board meeting of March 20. Ms. Kelly Chafizedah questioned Mr. Fixell as to why a special meeting that had been promised to the Pennybridge residents about the firehouse had never taken place? Dan McMahon addressed the Mayor saying, “Who in their right mind would put a firehouse next to a Children’s Center?” Lloyd Hartog mentioned that no one ever thought the Quonset hut temporary structure housing the Consolidated Engine Truck 77 would become a permanent building. He went on to call the groundbreaking ceremony an “election stunt.” Les Jacobs, a former Democratic candidate for Trustee, mentioned that Trustee Tom Basher had convinced him some years ago that a 2-bay firehouse was the only way to go. Mr. Jacobs went on to say that the Board had demonstrated a closed mind.
Regarding his decision to hold a groundbreaking ceremony and not notify neighborhood residents, Mayor Fixell said, “I apologize and have made an honest mistake.” That did little to deter skepticism and he was repeatedly pressed by Kathy McMahon to make no decision on the proposed Consolidated Engine Meadow Street firehouse until the Board met with residents. Mr. Fixell has agreed to hold that meeting within three weeks’ time. On March 28, notification went out to the press that the Board scheduled a “Special Work session” for the sole purpose of discussing the proposed Meadow Street Firehouse. That meeting was set for April 5. Although work sessions are open to the public, people may not speak unless requested to, by the Board.