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Thread: Judge Smokes Pols' Bid To Rescue Firehouses

  1. #1
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002

    Judge Smokes Pols' Bid To Rescue Firehouses



    May 23, 2003 -- A legal effort to save six firehouses from closing went down in flames yesterday when a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge ruled against lawmakers seeking to stop the shutdowns.

    More than a dozen lawmakers, including Councilman Bill de Blasio (D-Brooklyn) and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, sued the city and the Fire Department, saying they failed to give proper notice of the closings to city officials and didn't conduct an environmental-impact review.

    But Justice James Starkey denied a preliminary injunction to bar the closings, saying the lawmakers' case wasn't strong enough.

    Still, Starkey questioned how notice was given for the closing of Engine Co. 261 in Long Island City, Queens, and strongly recommended that house stay open at least until a hearing Wednesday.

    Starkey asked for more data on whether Manhattan Community Board No. 8, which covers Roosevelt Island, was entitled to notice because Engine 261 responds to Roosevelt Island.

    The city has not decided whether to close the house Sunday or await Starkey's ruling, said an FDNY spokesman.

    The houses to close at 9 a.m. Sunday include four Brooklyn companies - Engine 212 in Greenpoint; Engine 278 in Sunset Park, Engine 204 in Cobble Hill and Engine 209 in Williamsburg; a Queens house, and Engine 36 in East Harlem.

  2. #2
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002

    Firehouse reprieve nixed

    Firehouse reprieve nixed

    Judge rejects plea to stop shutdowns


    Six fire companies seem doomed.

    A judge denied a last-minute plea yesterday from community activists and elected officials to block the city from closing down the six companies Sunday morning.

    But Judge James Starkey made a strong recommendation that the city reconsider the closing of one of them, Engine 261 in Long Island City, Queens, which also serves Roosevelt Island.

    "Sunday morning is going to be a sad day," said Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. "It's going to be a sad day for firefighters who've been willing to risk their lives in these six communities. It's going to be a sadder day for those communities that will no longer be protected by those firehouses and those firefighters."

    Mayor Bloomberg's proposal to close eight fire companies as part of a budget cutting plan drew protests from around the city.

    Earlier this week, after the state Legislature approved a package of state aid, he took two companies off the list: Engine 293 in Queens and Squad 252 in Brooklyn. He said response times in the area covered by Engine 293 would have increased to unacceptable levels.

    A coalition of protesters, headed by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and City Council members, sued the city to stop it from closing the six still on the list: four in Brooklyn, Engine 204 in Cobble Hill, Engine 212 in Greenpoint, Engine 278 in Sunset Park and Engine 209 in Williamsburg/Bedford-Stuyvesant; Engine 261 in Long Island City, Queens, and Engine 36 in East Harlem.

    Starkey said they didn't prove closing the fire companies on Sunday will cause "irreparable harm," but he did agree to hear the case next week.

    "We feel the judge weighed the issue carefully and appreciate the court's careful consideration," corporation counsel Michael Cardozo said in a statement last night.

    He said the city will "reevaluate" closing Engine 261.

    Starkey noted the Roosevelt Island community board may not have been properly notified that Engine 261 would be closed, even though it serves the area.

    "I hope the mayor will finally listen," said Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Queens), whose district includes Engine 261. "This is reckless, it's bad policy, and he's putting dollars and cents ahead of people's lives."

    At Engine 212, dubbed the People's Firehouse, community leaders predicted the city could see a repeat of the 1975 fiscal crisis, when people occupied Engine 212 for 18 months until the city agreed to keep it open.

    Daniel Rivera, president of the People's Firehouse, a group that grew out of the 1975 protest, said the judge's ruling is "only going to fuel their determination to occupy the firehouse."

    Originally published on May 23, 2003

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