Fight to save Ladder 53 is on, yet again

Former City Comptroller Bill Thompson addressed a town hall meeting on City Island on Monday, June 4 on the proposed budget cuts that could endanger Ladder Company 53. Photo by Patrick Rocchio

Here we go again.

The annual rite of spring is on again with City Island’s beleaguered Fire Ladder Co. 53 .

The unit with the least number of fire runs in the city is reportedly on City Hall’s fourth annual budget chopping block, and locals are once again raising the fire alarm.

Residents and a host of electeds, including mayoral contenders, rallied Monday evening, with a diminished number of only a 100 or so showing up this year at a town hall-style meeting.

The mayor’s executive budget proposal has called for closing 20 fire companies citywide, and residents of the isolated nautical community are sure Ladder 53 will be one of them. It cannot leave the island, other than for fire runs to nearby Orchard Beach.

Councilman Jimmy Vacca hosted the rally in the gym of St. Mary Star of the Sea School on Minnieford Avenue, telling the crowd: “We have to make sure that no future mayor even considers closing Ladder Company 53.”

Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said he believes there should be sacred cows in government – and one of them should be public safety.

“It is very upsetting and it is getting pretty ridiculous,” Diaz said of the annual budget dance threat to the fire company.

“I think this is important in a community like City Island, where you have wooden homes next to active restaurants,” said Manhattan Borough President – and mayoral contender – Scott Stringer.

Fellow mayoral contender and former City Controller Bill Thompson called the budget proposal a “sick joke” because for the past three years the administration has proposed cutting the companies, and the City Council has always restored the money before the final budget was adopted by the end of June.

“We want to end the fear tactics, the scare games that get played every budget and be honest with the people of the city of New York,” Thompson said.

Also at the rally were Councilwoman Letitia James; representatives for Congressman Joseph Crowley, Senator Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Michael Benedetto; Community Board 10 chairman John Marano; members of the Country Club community, Morris Park Community Association, Throggs Neck Home Owners Association, and Waterbury-LaSalle Community Association, and firefighters and fire officers union officials.

City Island residents packed into the a town hall meeting at the St. Mary Star of the Sea School gym on Monday, June 4.
Photo by Patrick Rocchio

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