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Dutch Kills Renews Call for Shuttered FDNY Engine Company to Reopen, Cites Population Growth

FDNY Ladder 116 at 37-20 29th St. (Google Maps)

Dec. 19, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez

Local officials and community groups rallied in Dutch Kills today to once more urge for a decommissioned FDNY engine company to be reinstated in the area, given Long Island City’s every-growing population.

The demands were made outside FDNY Ladder 116 at 37-20 29th St., an active firehouse which, like all ladder companies through the city, works search and rescue calls, but does not house the equipment to put out a fire.

The 29th Street location also co-housed Engine Company 261 for years before shutting operations in 2003, with the more than 20 engine members at the site transferred to other units. The engine company here, like elsewhere in the city, provided water and hoses to fight fires.

Residents and elected officials said at the rally that Long Island City’s population and development boom immediately warrants that the Engine Company be reinstated for the community’s safety.

via Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney

Their demands, which include a letter sent to the mayor by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney days ago, follow a rally held just last year on the same issue.

“Firefighters have been asked to do more and more with fewer resources, and as the disastrous five-alarm fire in Sunnyside shows us, we cannot continue to put lives at risk,” Maloney said. “We must have an adequate number of personnel and equipment to serve this growing community.”

Maloney added that the nearest engine company to the area is a half mile away, a distance she said could put lives in peril.

The Uniformed Fire Officers Association also stands in strong support of the engine company’s reinstatement, and said that the Bloomberg-era decision to close firehouses was “short sighted.”

“Every community deserves adequate fire protection,” said Jake Lemonda, UFOA president.

Many at the rally pointed to the closed engine company as one of several infrastructure concerns raised by Long Island City residents in recent years. They also criticized the mechanisms that allow for such immense growth, and took a stab at Amazon’s plan with the city and state to build offices at Anable Basin.

“We don’t want to repeat the mistakes made during the Bloomberg years when hundreds of thousands of people were lured into formerly industrial communities which had inadequate public infrastructure,” said Council Member Joe Borelli, who chairs the city council’s fire and emergency management committee. “With this new Amazon campus…it’s imperative that Engine 261 in Long Island City be reactivated.”

The neighborhood, in the 15 years since the engine company closed, has seen more than 16,000 units completed, with roughly 12,000 units projected to open by 2020, according to the Long Island City Partnership. The development boom, meanwhile, came after the 2001 rezoning of the Queens Plaza area and the 2008 rezoning of Dutch Kills.

“Green-lighting the rapid development of our Long Island City community without providing the necessary infrastructure to sustain population growth is a threat to public safety,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.

The cohort of officials and groups also say it would be relatively simple to reinstate the engine company, since it was already co-housed at the Dutch Kills location.

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7 Comments

Ed Babcock

Time for Mr. Bezos to step up and adopt this project. Compete upgrade of the bldg., 50 year commitment on bldg.maintanence and such. We coud name it after him or his Dad. A rose by any name would smell sweet.

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Charles Castro

80,000 new residents between LIC & Astoria. Not one new hospital, no new schools, no new electrical grids, no additional cops, firemen, sanitation, same subway and bus service. Thank you Jimmy Van Bramer& Costas Constantinides

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Skip Seglipse

Blame the community boards for this overdevelopment. They’re the ones that control it. It has nothing to do with either Councilman.

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Anonymous

This is just common sense, which means DeBlasio won’t do it.
With that said, we need more healthcare facilities too. I read that there are two pet health facilities (one is a 24/7 emergency vet) opening in Court Square, where are these things for people?

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Anon

Who downvotes more healthcare facilities? What kind of reality do you live in?
There’s a shortage in this city, go to any ER for anything (almost anything) and wait hours upon hours because they’re just too busy. I’ve had a nurse tell me personally that NYC is too crowded and it’s an issue in the hospitals.

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William Kregler

The political merry-go-round: Call for the re-opening of Engine 261

Once again, calls for the reopening of Engine Company 261 are being tossed around like a political football.

The Company was closed by Mayor Mike Bloomberg under the ruse of streamlining government operations, which contributed to the $4.5 billion surplus reserves that was turned over to Bill deBlasio, who is spending it on bike lanes, homeless shelters, sweetheart contracts, like a drunken sailor on liberty.

The newest ploy is to tie it to the Amazon HQ2 move to Long Island City. This time the corrupt and inept elected officials are using this issue as a means to divert the above issues away from themselves.
The local councilmember, Jimmy Van Bramer, who is the number one spokesperson for the unscrupulous developers is re-developing himself away from this image and is now against Amazon HQ2 sweetheart deal. Yet he has a long track record of backing the Mayor and supporting the over-development of his entire district over the objections and votes against both by the local community and civic groups.

While running for Queens Borough President in 2017, I advocated that Amazon is better suited in Southeast Queens at the old Elmhurst Diary Plant. It affords 15 acres of immediately available land, with amble transportation from subways, buses, LIRR, and Kennedy Airport. In addition, the area has been a forgotten part of New York City for the past 60 years and has an over-abundant of job seekers who would gladly jump at the opportunity. Yet, Amazon and their liberal-socialist supporters, would rather sip wine and eat cheese as they look over the East River then actually do some social and economic good to those who really need it.

Now the fire unions are once again line themselves with these shelf-serving politicians and naively follow them like sheep believing that they are acting on the best interest of Firefighters and the community.

Should Engine Company 261 be re-opened? Most definitely.

I ask my fellow union members, civil servants and New Yorkers not to be fooled by this political sideshow that is played on us every couple of years.

William Kregler, Retired Fire Marshal, F.D.N.Y
Former Candidate for Queens Borough President

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Skip Seglipse

This post is filled with so much nonsense, it’s impossible to know where to start. Elmhurst “Diary” plant? lol

Also, why on earth would a company put a headquarters in Jamaica? There’s almost zero appeal to a technology company to building a corporate HQ in that location. The workers amazon needs are certainly not there.

Also, you claim Amazon supporters to be liberal socialist, which is possibly one of the dumbest things ever written. Most liberals are against amazon because of their poor worker treatment and anti union stance.

Also, it’s incredibly amusing to see a former FDNY guy – someone who spent their entire life (and now retirement) reaping the benefits of liberal socialism (being in a union, being able to retire relatively young and live off the taxpayer) using the term now like some kind of insult.

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