Vacca, City Island pledge more protests

Councilman Jimmy Vacca (above) is one of the leading voices against the closure of Ladder Company 53 on City Island. Now, Vacca has become chairman of the council’s Fire and Criminal Justice Committee. Photo courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Vacca

Councilman Jimmy Vacca and City Island residents are mounting a fight against the closure of their ladder company on July 1.

The fight was bolstered recently by the news that Councilman Vacca, a vocal opponent of the closure, was named chairman of the Fire and Criminal Justice Committee of the city council.

According to Vacca, the appointment is a sign of Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s growing appreciation of his influence in the council.

The FDNY submitted a cost-cutting plan last month that included closing 16 fire companies in the city starting in July, for a savings of $17 million.

One of those companies is Ladder 53 on City Island, one of four companies marked for nighttime closure in the FDNY’s midyear cuts. Vacca has argued that City Island’s geographic isolation and unique fire risks necessitate a full-time, on-island ladder company. The community has raised similar concerns.

“We have shown how City Island is a unique situation with one way on and one way off,” said Bill Stanton, president of the City Island Civic Association. “Anyone who has any affiliation with the island knows how congested it can become during the summer months when the restaurants and marinas bring traffic.”

Stanton said that a meeting with FDNY brass in December was unproductive because they “saw no evil, heard no evil, and spoke no evil.”

The firehouse, which is located at 169-71 on Schofield Street, also houses Engine Company 70, which will remain in operation.

Vacca said that he is planning to mount a number of interesting protests to the proposed firehouse cut.

“During Easter weekend, we are going to take advantage of City Island’s popularity for dining by asking restaurant patrons to sign cards that say Ladder 53 is important enough that we will judge the mayor on this come election day,” a spokesman for Vacca said.

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