City Island Residents Fed Up With Firehouse Limbo
While residents of City Island were happy to hear that their ladder company would not be cut in the city budget, they are also frustrated that the company has been put in limbo for multiple years in a row. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
Paul Klein makes jewelry and owns Kaleidoscope Gallery on City Island. For him, it's a dream come true.
"I wanted to have a store in a small town but it's in NYC," he says. "It's a pretty cool thing."
But each year, he says the city invades his idyllic life with an idle threat: that budget cuts could force the city to close Ladder Company 53.
"It really is ridiculous," he says. "We had a fire in our house about 14 years ago. We're in a 150-year-old Victorian. Had there not been a fire company on the island the house would have been lost."
Less than 5,000 people live on City Island, many of them in homes made of wood. There's only one bridge to the mainland.
There's also only one firehouse with a ladder and an engine company. The ladder company responds to the fewest fires in the city and was once again targeted for closure this year by Mayor Bloomberg, who proposed and then backed off closing 20 fire companies to save money.
"I don't think they should close down any firehouses," said one resident. "It's a shame that they have to go through this every year."
Skip Giacco, the president of the City Island Chamber of Commerce, says the debate isn't just hot air. To him, it has a real impact on the economy.
"It temporarily slows it down every time they talk about it," he says. "Frankly, I feel like we've been disrespected by the mayor."
Back at the Kaleidoscope Gallery, Paul Klein took a call from a friend with the good news that Ladder Company 53 won't get axed this year. Klein, who also sells toys and games, says he feels like he's being played by the city.
"What are people hiding?" he says. "What else is going on that they just want to shield so that we're busy trying to chase down our firehouse while something else is slipped by? It makes you feel that way."