The April issue of River Journal ran a story about the protest over the proposed building of a new firehouse on Meadow Street. To keep current with the issue we are reporting on a Special Workshop that the Tarrytown Board of Trustees held on Wednesday, April 5 at Village Hall. That meeting was televised, and in attendance were residents in favor of and those opposed to the Meadow Street location for Consolidated Engine Company’s new firehouse.
The decision to televise a “Special Village Board Work Session” and allow public comment is one not usually made. Adamant that they be heard, residents protesting the Village’s intention of building a new firehouse on Meadow Street had their wishes granted—the session was broadcast Village wide and residents were granted permission to address the Board.
Mayor Drew Fixell addressed those in attendance by saying, “I hope to have a cordial and civil discussion.” He went on to clarify that the previous Board of Trustees (of which he was a member) did commit to a two-bay firehouse under one roof on Route 119. However, shortly after becoming Mayor in 2005, he and the new Board felt that there wouldn’t be adequate parking for two firehouses at the Route 119 location. According to Mr. Fixell the Board had an obligation to look into building two smaller firehouses. Regarding the Meadow Street location, he said, “It seemed to us to be an excellent site – and still does.”
Village Administrator, Steve McCabe, addressed the public with excerpts from a letter written by the Tarrytown Chief of Police, and a traffic consultant’s report. In essence, the Chief’s letter stated that there was no reason to be concerned about potential accidents on Meadow Street based on past history and recordings of previous accidents. The traffic consultant’s report concurred and said that there would not be any measurable impact on traffic or safety issues, should the new firehouse be constructed on Meadow Street.
Architect Sean McCarthy gave an overview of the Consolidated Engine Company’s firehouse which is slated to be 42 feet wide and 70 feet long. It will be 5,984 square feet with two floors and a brick treatment exterior; it will cost $1,680,000.
Acting Fire Chief Robert Scogna, a member of Consolidated Engine, addressed the Board by saying that he had been a member of the Company for twenty-seven years. He felt that “response time” was essential in firefighting and that getting to a Route 119 fire station could present problems, due to traffic volume and traffic lights. Regarding the building of the firehouse on Meadow Street he said, “It’s time to move forward and not backward. We, the volunteers, know what’s best needed for this department.”
On the other side of the issue was Patsy Di Benedetto who asked the Mayor directly, “Is this firehouse a done deal?” Mayor Fixell replied, “It’s close to a done deal. When we vote to approve the money then it’s a done deal.” Mr. Di Benedetto stated, “You did this behind closed doors!” The Mayor answered, “This was not done behind closed doors. Could we have done this better, yes, we could have.”
From this point on, the lines were fairly evenly divided between those in disfavor and those in support of the new firehouse on Meadow Street. When the work session adjourned 2 ½ hours later, it was clear that the proposed location of Consolidated Engine Company’s Meadow Street firehouse has polarized the very neighborhood it is entrusted to protect.