Recently, the board attended a meeting of the City Council’s Fire and Criminal Justice Services Committee Hearing, concerning the planned nighttime closure of fire houses throughout the city. Ladder #53 on City Island is slated to be closed during the hours from 6 p.m. to of the prior evening to 9 a.m. of the succeeding day. This policy is being enacted by the Fire Department of the City of New York, in response to budget constraints imposed by the City’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). OMB is charged with the responsibility of reviewing agency operations, such as the Fire Department, and to seek from those agencies ways in which to reduce their expenditures. Agency’s such as the Fire Department must identify ways in which they will reduce their budgets, so that they will be in line with the Mayor’s budget deficit reduction program.
Commissioner Scoppetta of the FDNY appeared at the hearing and discussed the rationale for the planned closure, and fielded questions from the Council members. It seems that the FDNY is using the number of calls to the firehouse on City Island, as the sole criteria for this planned nighttime closing. They are not taking into consideration that the nearest fire company is located in Co-op City, the fact that City Island is just that, an island and that is home to dozens of restaurants that are next to each other and located in a community of wooden framed homes.
A fire could erupt, as it recently did in the middle of the night on City Island, which destroyed half a city block. This fire was extinguished by Ladder #53, the very company that the FDNY seeks to close. A fast moving fire, whipped by winds could have easily overtaken other structures on the Island. However, Ladder #53’s presence prevented that. If Ladder #53 were to be closed, it could take up to ten (10) minutes before the company from Co-op City could arrive, due to the long distance that they would need to travel. This scenario would give City Island the longest response time for any FDNY unit in the entire city.
The FDNY argues that City Island will be left with an Engine Company. There is a problem with this analysis, in that an engine company is not sufficient to suppress a fire in a two story building, nor will it be able to extinguish a fire at one of the marinas. The engine company also lacks the ladder and the search and rescue equipment needed to suppress the fire and save lives. The FDNY’s other argument, is that it will augment the Engine Company on City Island with staff from other fire companies for the Ladder Company. These firefighters will come from other houses, which are overstaffed for that evening. If another house(s) are overstaffed, City Island would have the protection of a Ladder Company, if not, City Island would not have this protection. This sporadic staffing model is a poor substitute for an assigned Ladder Company, and places the City Island community in jeopardy.
CB 10 attended a community meeting on City Island, a candlelight march, a City Council Hearing and has sent several letters to the mayor and the FDNY commissioner offering cost reductions alternatives to the department, such as reviewing lease arrangements for property, personnel practices and contracting services. The board believes that the FDNY can identify other areas in their organization in which to cut, other than the life saving services.
During inclement weather, such as the recent snowstorms, many residents contacted the board or 311 to report that that their trash or recycling materials were not been picked up.
When the city experiences a snowstorm, the Sanitation Department’s first priority is the removal of snow and the salting of main roads and ancillary streets. The Department of Sanitation will pick up the refuse and the recyclables, as soon as possible. This may result in the trash and the recyclables being picked up a day later or in the evening, but the Department has assured the Board that these materials will be picked up.
Recently, the board has encountered complaints from seniors residing in 1-3 family homes that that property owners are cutting off the heat from the property’s furnace, and offering their tenants space heaters. The rationale offered to the tenants by their landlord is the high cost of fuel. This is a short sighted policy that may in fact, be illegal.
A landlord cannot substitute space heaters for furnace supplied heat. Anyone affected by this type of action, should contact 311 or the community board at (718) 892-1161. Landlords are to provide heat and hot water between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., if the outside temperature falls below 55 degrees, the inside temperature must be at least 68 degrees. Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., if the outside temperature falls below 40 degrees, the inside temperature is required to be at least 55 degrees.
Home owning seniors can take advantage of the Parodneck Foundations’ Senior Citizen Homeowner Assistance Program or (SCHAP). The SCHAP program provides assistance to senior homeowners living deteriorated housing or housing that is slated for foreclosure. The program provides no or low interest loans for technical assistance in renovating their homes. The Program has been in existence since the mid 1980’s and offers the following services: Senior Help Deferred Forgivable Loan Program – Provides interest free loans for renovation costs; Senior-Help Repayment Loan-This program provides a low interest 3% loan for renovation costs; The Parodneck Foundation Revolving Loan Fund Program- Provides low interest loans of 6% that can be used for renovation costs, real estate taxes, mortgage arrears and legal or architectural fees; Predatory Lending Remediation Loan – This program provides loan monies, some from the City, to seniors who have been taken advantage of by predatory lenders. These programs are operated by the Parodneck Foundation and supported by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the New York State Affordable Housing Corporation. Additional information concerning these programs can be obtained by contacting the SCHAP program at (212) 431-9700 or at www.parodneckfoundation.org.
As you all know, there has been great speculation in the newspapers concerning the proposed fare increases and budget deficits experienced by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Fares on the subways, buses, express buses and commuter railroads are scheduled to be increased. These increases may go into affect, while the MTA eliminates bus and subway service, cuts the hours of staff and forgoes needed maintenance on its facilities. On Wednesday, February 4, the agency will be conducting a public hearing on the proposed increases at Lehman College’s Lovinger Theater, 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West at 6 p.m. All of the hearings begin at 6 p.m. and close at 9 p.m. Anyone wishing to speak must register in advance, contact Mr. Sussman at (212) 878-7483.
The Bronx Borough President’s Office is looking for a few good people to serve on local community boards. If you are interested, please contact the Borough President at (718) 590-3914 to obtain an application, or visit the office on line at bronxboropres.nyc.gov.
CB 10 is available to assist you with your concerns, please feel free to contact us at (718) 892-1161 or BX10@cb.nyc.gov. Please feel free to visit our office at 3165 E. Tremont Avenue. We are open five days a week between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.