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Firehouse funds are a ‘Catch 22’

“Because of federal bureaucracy, we can’t get the money” to build a new firehouse, said Eddie O’Hare, President of the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department (BCVFD).
At a meeting on Friday, January 23, attended by the Department of Transportation (DOT) as well as other agencies and elected officials, the volunteer firefighters were informed that, were they to accept a $2 million allocation, secured by Congressmember Anthony Weiner and former Senator Hillary Clinton under a transportation bill, they “would have to turn over the lease to the city and put them on the deed,” according to O’Hare.
“The [$2 million] earmark does not cover the cost of the project,” explained Marc LaVorgna, a spokesperson for the mayor, a few weeks ago. He said an estimated total is $5.9 million. “If we [had] accepted the project, then we’d have to complete the funding; accepting the money would [have] cost us far more than it brings in.”
LaVorgna went on to further explain that there is a process that accompanies accepting federal dollars - including audits and certifying that the project meets federal rules and regulations - and that multiple agencies, such as the DOT, FDNY and even the Comptroller’s office, would have to be involved.
If the project would have been accepted, he said, then the city would have been liable for the stewardship of the building - its maintenance, preventing its misuse, etc. - for the lifetime of the structure. The city would then also be subject to an audit each year.
“We have said for some time now,” said LaVorgna, “that the best approach would be to have federal funds channeled directly to them [the volunteers.”
O’Hare said that the BCVFD had been saving and raising $440,000 for the last 10 years (they were required to raise 20 percent of the $2 million), and that about $30,000 has been spent on engineers, consultants, etc. to date.
“We’re looking at a pot of gold and we can’t touch it,” he said, noting that a letter has been sent to Weiner. “We want to figure out where we go from here.”

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