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DOT blocking long awaited firehouse

Bah Humbug! It seems the Grinch may steal Christmas from some local firefighters.
The 45-member Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department (BCVFD) has been saving and raising funds - $440,000 in total - for the last 10 years for a new firehouse, but the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) is balking at the project - not answering letters or emails - according to Eddie O’Hare, 49, president of the organization.
It all started 12 years ago, said O’Hare, when BCVFD purchased property on Cross Bay Boulevard at auction. Then, three years ago, at the organization’s 100th anniversary, Congressmember Anthony Weiner presented a $2 million check - he had secured half, Senator Hillary Clinton the other half.
The volunteers, who themselves go without pay, were required to raise 20 percent of that sum - which they did, thanks to the community, according to O’Hare.
“We met all the criteria of the state,” he said. “We tweaked everything to make sure it worked.”
On board with the project, O’Hare said, were the state DOT, other city, state and federal agencies, and local elected officials, including Senator Shirley Huntley and Assemblymember Audrey Pheffer, both of whom have secured $100,000.
According to published reports, the city DOT is the last agency needed to OK the project - they have to complete a Transportation Improvement Plan application - before the BCVFD can get the money - and get going.
“Councilmember Joseph Addabbo has been trying to get a meeting [with the DOT] for 18 weeks,” said O’Hare. “The clock is ticking and no one is getting back to us. We’ve heard many excuses.”
“We have concerns about the Broad Channel Volunteer Firehouse replacement proposal, which has been under review. We will be reaching out to Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Company in the next few weeks to discuss these concerns,” said DOT spokesperson Seth Solomonow.
What would set the 10,000-square-foot, two-story headquarters apart, said O’Hare, is the fact that it would be a “green” building, with geothermal and solar heating, and that it would a be multi-use facility.
“The meeting room [upstairs] could be used for seniors, for classes, if there is flooding or some other catastrophe, and even as a triage center,” said O’Hare.
He continued, “Our [current] building is so small you’re lucky to get 12 people in there. We’ve done all this work - this is the final stage and no one wants to return calls. All we need is for the DOT to sit down with us for five minutes.”

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