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Community Board Approves FDNY’s Plan to Locate next to Park, Plenty of Conditions Attached

Photo: QueensPost

June 8, 2014 By Christian Murray

The New York City Fire Department’s plan to house 100 fire trucks on a site adjacent to Lou Lodati Park was approved by Community Board 2 Thursday.

The vote was contentious with many Sunnyside residents expressing their disapproval of the FDNY’s plan given its close proximity to the park and people’s houses, as well as the lack of data that would provide some indication as to how busy the site would be.

Nevertheless, the community board approved it by a vote of 22 “yes”, 9 “abstentions” and 5 “No.” Thirteen board members failed to attend the meeting or just decided to leave before the vote took place.

The FDNY wants the site, which is located at 39-34 43rd Street, so it can keep a reserve fleet of 100 trucks on hand in case any of the vehicles at its various firehouses throughout New York City break down or get into an accident.

Dave Harney, a representative of the FDNY who spoke at the meeting, said the FDNY needs the site since its current location on Paige Avenue in Brooklyn is located in a flood zone and when Hurricane Sandy hit many of the vehicles were put at risk.

“We looked at 8 sites—3 in Queens and 5 in Brooklyn—and for various reasons…the others didn’t come to muster.”

One of the benefits of the Sunnyside site, according to the FDNY, is its proximity to its repair shop at 40-67 34th Street.

The 39-34 43rd Street lot will also house another FDNY function that is currently Maspeth. That unit is responsible for keeping tabs on all the decommissioned vehicles (which are typically for sale) and those vehicles involved in accidents, which might be the subject of litigation.

In addition, the FDNY will store construction equipment on the site and various tools.

Harney said that there will be 16 workers on site at any one time, equating to as many as 60 workers over a 24 hour period

Mike Kenny, a Sunnyside resident, spoke against the proposal. “This is a residential neighborhood, not suitable for a 24 hour corridor that already suffers from increased noise, pollution and traffic.”

Near the corner of 43rd/Barnett Ave.

“The site is adjacent to a large public park and playground…and it is a significant danger for children and caregivers,” Kenny said.

Kenny noted that the Paige facility is in the heart of an industrial zone and that the Sunnyside location is surrounded by houses.

Kenny said that the FDNY should look harder for a site.

One board member asked if the FDNY was in conflict with the “fair share” rule, a rule that aims to reduce the concentration of city services in one neighborhood. The proposal for the 43rd Street facility would result in almost all of the FDNY vehicle storage and repair activity being housed within CB 2.

Harney, however, warned that if the FDNY was not able to use the Sunnyside site a commercial enterprise might. He said such a business would be free to use it as it chooses, without community input.

Some of the advocates for the plan viewed it best to work with the FDNY than to have no say over a business that moved in. Their argument was based on the premise that something worse could move in and the community could not weigh in.

Furthermore, the FDNY pledged that it would keep pollution to a minimum by way of its vehicle exhaust capturing system. Harney also said that the fleet now runs on ultra low sulfur diesel or biodiesel, which is most likely a lot cleaner than a local delivery truck.

He pledged that the trucks would use Northern Boulevard to come in and out of the area—as opposed to Queens Blvd. He said there would be no flashing lights or horns.

A big concern for residents, however, dealt with how busy the facility would get and how many vehicles would come in and out.

Harney, who had been asked that question for weeks, said he was unable to provide such a number.

Many attendees viewed this as an ominous sign.

“The FDNY has data on more things you can image…whether it is air quality emissions, noise…it is preposterous that they can’t tell us that number,” said John O’Reilly, a Sunnyside resident.

“Why? They are afraid to tell us!” O’Reilly said. “It’s going to be busy, that’s why. It’s not just spare and reserve vehicles…they are putting trucks that are decommissioned and involved in accidents.”

O’Reilly went on to say that vehicles involved in accidents need tow trucks and these will be big tow trucks.

O’Reilly urged the community board not to vote until it got the numbers. “You can’t vote on this until you get the data. You are buying a pig in the poke.”

Nevertheless, Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee, which had been discussing the plan for more than a month, had recommended that the board approve it. The land use committee made the recommendation provided the FDNY agreed to the following:

a)      That the site would not be a firehouse

b)      There would be no on-street parking

c)      All vehicles would have to be parked indoors or behind the facility

d)     An apparatus would be moved in or out on an as-needed basis

e)      Access to the location would be via Northern Blvd

f)       There would be a vehicle exhaust capturing system

g)      All activity would be kept as far away from the playground as possible

h)      Commit to meetings on a regular basis with the community board.

Other items were added during the meeting. The board wanted assurances that the facility would never become a repair shop and that it would provide a quarterly report of all vehicles going in and out of the lot.

However, toward the end of the discussion, Community Board Chair Joe Conley said that he had just heard from the Deputy Commissioner of FDNY who was committed to supplying data on the number of vehicles going in and out from its current facility for 2012. He said he would work on getting the data on Friday.

However, Conley said that it made sense for the community board to vote on the issue Thursday because it was the last full meeting before summer and that the community would not get a say if it waited until later in the year. By that time, the FDNY’s application would have been reviewed by the borough president’s office and would have gone to the planning commission as part of the ULURP process.

Conley said that the board should vote yes or no Thursday and provide reasons for its decision.

The board, with 22 votes, approved it with all the conditions.

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27 Comments

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older sunnysider

I guess this facility will fit perfectly nestled in our land marked preservation
protected community.
Another crock of dog doo.

Reply
other guy

@ some guy. It was previously used to store stuff by some company called Robbins I think. Either that or it was a chocolate bunny rabbit storage.

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Native NYer

The FDNY benefits all of NYC, including Sunnyside. The building is there and would eventually be used by some business, whether public or private. It’s behind the park and will be used primarily as a garage, the vehicles will be parked and sitting idle most of the time.

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JOReilly

The fire personnel assigned to these units are limited, light duty employees and therefore are not and cannot be assigned to provide medical or other hands on assistance unless and until cleared by medical/physician staff. There is zero direct benefit to the Sunnyside community resulting from the placement of this facility on 43rd Street other than the benefit provided to all residents City-wide of having spare and reserve trucks at the ready, 24 hours a day, 7 days ta week o be moved out when needed.

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Anonymous

Can we contact JVB’s office and stage a protest (even without him) to get media’s attention on dangers for safety of children?!

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Helios

I like to think positive. If there is an accident in the surrounding area, there will be 18 firemen nearby who know CPR and basic first aid. Let me know if I am wrong about this.

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Wavy

Thanks, JOReilly, you see clearly. Good God, I wish Joe C. would go shill for someone else somewhere else. He is too good at it.

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JOReilly

The FDNY representative tells the Community Board, in essence, we don’t want to give you data on the level of activity at the spare/back up truck-demolished truck-motor vehicle fleet-construction/material garage to be located next to Lodati Park and across the street from people’s houses because “we’re afraid you will hold us to the numbers”. Does the Community Board laugh and tell the Department to come back when you have the data? When the FDNY representative emphasizes that only 14-16 people per shift will be assigned to work on the spare/back up truck function, and says nothing about the number of people who will be working on the other functions to be performed on 43rd Street, and essentially does the Curly Shuffle when told the Department’s Fair Share document states that 60 people per 24 hour period, 7 days per week will be involved with moving the trucks around and another 20 employee will be working with the motor vehicle fleet function between 8 AM to 10:30 PM, 7 days a week, does the Community Board tell the Department representative, “Sir, you are insulting our intelligence”? When the Board Chairman in classic deus ex machine fashion announces shortly before the Board vote that he’s just been told, months after multiple requests, the Deputy Fire Commissioner will provide “data” (not defined) by letter the next day, does the Community Board say, “Ok, let’s wait and see what the numbers show, let’s find out what approximately 80 people per day, seven days a week, assigned to this location will be doing other than staring at the spare/back up trucks-demolished trucks-motor vehicle fleet-construction/materials? Well no. Why? Because the Board Chairman tells the Board that there are no scheduled meetings until September and the Community Board needs to act tonight, this after the Fire Department representative told the Board that it will take at least 20 months to work through the City processes to lease the space, and no one says anything about what the next step is or when it is scheduled to occur. No one says anything about the potential of calling a meeting of the Board before September to take up the matter after whatever “data” is received from the FDNY and analyzed/questioned nor suggests that whoever/whatever the next step is be requested to hold off (during the same summer months the Community Board will take off) until the Board can act. The rationale to vote to approve the FDNY application, as articulated by the Board Chairman? If the Community Board votes No, the Community Board will be ignored, but if the Community Board votes to approve with a series of stipulations, not in writing, spoken from dais and shouted from the audience, they will ….not be ignored. Huh? The Board leader’s message, in essence, to the members, “You are essentially powerless except when I say you are not powerless.” Only after the vote does the Board Chairman wonder, out loud, when I get the numbers, what should I do? In a series of one pathetic moment after another, most pitiful is that not one Board Member expressed a concern about the impact this multifaceted FDNY facility will have on the children in the playground right next to the outdoor truck lot/garage etc., or on the folks who use the rest of the park.

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Sunnysider

I’d really like the names of the council people who voted yes and no (also those who abstained).

Reply
Oldschool Sunnysider

“The 39-34 43rd Street lot will also house another FDNY function that is currently Maspeth. That unit is responsible for keeping tabs on all the decommissioned vehicles (which are typically for sale) and those vehicles involved in accidents, which might be the subject of litigation.”
-TRANSLATION….ITS GOING TO BE A JUNKYARD.

“There would be no on-street parking”
– TOTAL BS….WATCH OUT AS THE ALL NEW PARKERS WITH THEIR “FDNY” PLACARDS FLOOD THE NEIGHBORHOOD.

Someone is getting paid handsomely for this, as the people get screwed…again.

Reply
Change

Imagine the run-off and the fumes that will now be a regular scent in the newly furnished Lou Lodatti park. In the summer when your children are playing in the water you will swear you are near a plastic refinery. These board members are ridiculous for choosing not to vote. These are the same board members who are voting against a bike path and green run on Queens Blvd. The absentees who don’t show up to vote should not get my tax money.
See you at the Bar crawl .

Reply
WavyDavy

Oh, c’mon! They voted yes because they are enthralled with Joe Conley! Who in God’s name is foolish enough to believe his last minute ploy, “the numbers are coming!”

What a truckload of, as my grandmother said, “shite.” He is growing richer by the day and these fools, who feel important when he says hello to them, swallow his bait hook, line and sinker.

Except we are all sinking and they don’t know they are responsible for it.

Reply
audit?

This is the new NYC political landscape. Why bother getting details, facts, specifics? Better to vote now just in case ____ (fill in the blank) happens. Same thing happened with teachers union contract and the health care costs.

Reply
Dorothy Morehead

An abstention counts as a no vote, so the vote would be counted as 14 no votes, 22 yes votes. I voted no because I object to the siting next to the playground and on a residential street.

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Deniz

What kind of a community board is this, with

22 yes
9 abstentions
5 no and
13 absent??

Why is more than 25% of the board not there for this important vote? Why are nearly 20% abstaining? These are important questions to ask those who are supposed to be responsible for the welfare and well-being of our neighborhood.

There are going to be a hundred trucks right next to a playground – a playground – with children playing in it!! They couldn’t find a more suitable location? And the board couldn’t fight this off, really, really??

Reply
Rick Duro

I bet no one in the FDNY , or on CB2 (that voted to approve this mess), would want it built across the street from their home or park. How do they plan to ‘capture’ emissions from trucks outside? Who is going to hold the FDNY accountable when they break those rules, and it will happen. CB2 approved this w/o some of the most basic info. What about the quote that the fuel they are currently using is ‘most likely cleaner’, that’s very reassuring. If you think all FDNY workers will use N. Blvd you are naive. CB2 really dropped the ball. Why were so many members absent for such an important vote. The use of the fear of what could move into that space is just fear propaganda, it’s been empty forever. Giant trucks, as Mr O’Reilly pointed out, need enormous tow trucks. ..beep beep beeping as they back the trucks in. I feel bad for the homeowners across the street. CB2 had 1 job, to ensure that any project benefits the area, b this one definitely does not.

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Born and raised

Anyone remember when they used to distribute Yahtzee and other games out of here ?
It’s absolutely false to say that trucks at this site will impact the park.

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SunnysidePosthatesme16

who the hell cares how busy it gets? only the yuppies that live over there, the rest of us have to deal with you know….a whole freaking boulevard.

Danger for children? what children? the ones alllllll the way on the other side? absolutely ridiculous .

Reply
me

could you list them names of all the board members who voted yes, and those that abstained from voting???

Reply

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