You know what I think.
Now we need to know what you think.
The Vote is today 4-9 PM
Lido and Point Lookout Firehouses.
We will know for sure tomorrow.
To move forward after their bond vote defeat in the summer of 2013, the Lido – Point Lookout Fire District held the first community forum to discuss moving forward with renovations and upgrades needed at district properties.
Representatives were there from all the local civic associations.
The basic synopsis is :
1 Ye Olde Firehouse is off the table.
they are moving forward with repairs based on the insurance money that they will be getting to restore it to “pre-Sandy” condition plus necessary code upgrades.
2) Lido firehouse and Point Lookout firehouse need renovations and expansions, also to somehow include the uses of the Fire Commissioners, Administration and command center that are no longer to be separately built.
With a short discussion from Commissioner Andy Richter, they turned over for questions and comments from the 40 people in attendance.
Once again the question of the future of the fire department and that they may need to get paid firefighters came up
I asked what “would be the difference in the building requirements for paid versus continued volunteer force “Is it the same building?”
The answer “it’s fairly similar – the same apparatus , the locker room, the bunk room, the training room, showers, administrative staff. You’re going to have to cover all the things the same way.”
He said the only thing different is the area required for the firefighters’ “room” depends on the number of paid firefighters.
It was brought up again later-
We will need the exact same firehouses for a paid force as well. Confirmed!!
Someone brought up “why can’t we contract out to the Long Beach Fire Department.”
The closest firehouse would be in Long Beach and they’re having a bigger shortage of manpower than we are. The paid (firefighters) … Don’t leave the city of Long Beach, that’s in their contract.”
Seeing that the discussion was losing sight, commissioner Richter went back to the bottom line… “If you’re wiling to pay them, then why don’t we [continue to] have our own fire department?”
Stephen Schaffer from Lido Homes Civic Association had some suggestions about recruiting and incentives for recruits. It was explained that many of these are already in place. The big one was just eliminated by Nassau County but may come back. I think his ideas should still be pursued.
Mike Fichtelman, Vice President of Lido Dunes Civic Association said there were “Three main reasons” the bond vote Failed:
1- taxes: some will be against them no matter what and they don’t care
2- they weren’t told about it. Didn’t know how much their taxes were going to go up and why
3- there was some (question against) the real needs of fire department.
“You should identify the top reasons it didn’t pass.”
Rob Humphries said “Assess why it is, what people didn’t like about it.”
Stephen Schaffer from Lido homes :
” 7.5 million was a big number .. There were questions of insurance and FEMA money. [ed- we have received the maximum we can to date] If it were 5 million maybe people would’ve said “ok”. There were unanswered questions about Ye Olde Firehouse. Some people in Lido said ‘I don’t know why I’m building a community room for the residents of Point Lookout’. ”
Commissioner Richter said about grants etc.
“There’s no offsets. We are paying the freight. It’s out of our pockets.”
Commissioner Chas Thompson said that Long Beach has so few firefighters they have been here a mutual aid calls three times in the past year, Point Lookout- Lido fire department has gone to help Long Beach 60-65 times. (Twice today!)
It was mentioned that we should consolidate to one centrally located firehouse. The response was that will probably cause everyone’s homeowners insurance to go up because everyone’s response time would dramatically increase, and the district would lose its “class 3” status. Commissioner Richter said “we work very hard to keep it a class III because that effects your homeowners insurance for fire. That has to do with where this fire house is, that has to do with where the Lido fire house is.”
“We can spend a lot of money on an analysis and it is going to come back to the firehouse here, and that firehouse there.” He said in response to spending what could easily be tens of thousands on “consultants” to find that out.
Commissioner Steven Weitz discussed the elimination of the command Center building. “That means that there was $1.9 million of the total to look at Lido fire house and headquarters and what can we do to reconfigure… To give us the same functionality as the command center was going to provide.”
“This board made a commitment that we would take a look at Ye Olde firehouse” see above for the synopsis, the second draft plans using the received insurance money alone, will be available in February for the renovations.
Ex – Chief Tim Collins said he was against the last plan. He spoke to the large number of grants the department has earned the last 8 years compared to prior saying we are all lucky to have “one of the best trained and equipped” departments around because of the large amounts the district has earned. He said “the ‘clubhouse’ has been thrown around a few times – the guys and gals come here so we want to give them a little incentive. Imagine you build a building without making it comfortable for the people?
He spoke to the fact of it being difficult for young families to afford to live in this town and watch their taxes go up. “If they come back with a plan that’s a little bit cheaper, I think they’ll be more receptive.
“Don’t think these guys are being irresponsible. These are some of the most responsible guys the fire department’s ever had. We’re lucky to have them.
He continued “Don’t think you’re being cheated- not by them and not the fire department. The fire department needs help and we need more people. We can’t keep raising the costs because then people can’t live here.
Common ground has to be reached, something needs to be done.”
Don Kelly of Point Lookout Property Owners said “It would please everybody to see communication structured in such a way so that there would be an …. interchange of the community, of the commissioners, and the firemen to be able to come up with ideas. I think everybody wants the one thing – they want to see the firehouses upgraded. It’s got to be a team effort”
He said to keep your eyes peeled for PLPO “By The Sea” newsletter that gets mailed to every house in the district monthly.
Andrew Richter summed it up: “The more people become engaged and involved in what needs to be done here, the easier our jobs are going to be. We want to all get on the same page. We want the vote to be a formality.”
Mark your calendar.
Second meeting will be held
Tuesday Jan 21, 2014 7:30 pm
What do you think?
You know what they say opinions are like, so stop reading now if you’d rather not know mine.
I want to thank the numerous people I met and talked with about this issue on both sides: who shared their opinions, comments, and knowledge and participated in this discussion. Its obvious people Continue reading
related links to cost estimates for construction :
Ye Olde Firehouse Cost estimate
Headquarters Cost Estimate
Administration Bldg(Command Center) Cost Estimate
Lido Firehouse Cost Estimate
Ye Olde Firehouse inspection Report
After Tuesdays Civic Association meeting with the fire department that got heated at times, I tracked down Fire Commissioner Chas Thompson, as he finished a days work at the Long Beach Lifeguard Station, where he has served for 30+ years. He spoke of the meeting:
“It was a rough night. I think a lot of people were passionate about what they’re trying to say. I agree if you own a piece of property, you should have representation but we don’t make the law, we’re just following New York State code.
“As far as absentee ballots we’ve never had absentee ballots and we are running the same way we always have.
“Then for people to question the integrity of who’s counting the ballots…
On Thursday evening June 6, 2013 the Lido – Point Lookout Fire District met with residents at their second open house, this time at Lido Firehouse.
Click this link for up to date information directly from;
Lido Point Lookout Fire District.
Once again Commissioner Andy Richter led the discussion. Like he had in Point Lookout two nights before, he explained to residents what the project is about how much it’s going to cost and what’s involved.
Simultaneously Chas Thompson and Jack Paz were presenting at the homeowners association at the Lido Townhouses.
The meeting was attended by about 40 residents including members of the Lido Dunes and Lido Homes Civic Associations.
You can see my previous post for most of the details:
He spoke of the Sandy related flooding at Lido that wiped out their critical systems heat and generator etc. that they were running on space heaters through most of the winter.
He explained that this is not the original plan, developed over the last ten years; this is the evolved plan since Sandy.
The original plan was limited to:
Economics, reassessments and then Sandy changed all that.
The new plan is “spreading the 7 million over 3 properties- that was a number similar to the original plan for 2 properties”. The new plan downsizes the new building at Ye Olde Firehouse, to basically records storage, offices that will no longer exist inside the new main headquarters firehouse if the ambulance is going to fit there, and a conference room/command center for emergencies, with all savings now going into Lido Firehouse expansion and renovation.
Additionally, he defended the shower rooms and upgraded restrooms at HQ, that took some flack from Point Lookout residents saying: “frankly, its disgraceful when our young people respond to medical emergencies or are crawling in god knows what, and we ask them to take whatever bodily fluids they get on them or whatever else they deal with home to their family to shower at home” after a call. He also explained the “bunk rooms” are flexible-designed to be used for other purposes at any given time.
In further reference to efforts to defeat the measure and save Ye Olde Firehouse, Andy sternly told the crowd: “I don’t need anyone telling me about fond memories at Ye Olde Firehouse.
I was there. They weren’t.”
He also told the group: “I will answer any questions. Find me at the firehouse, I will tell you fact. ”
After the presentation questions were taken.
First, Lido Dunes Civic member Addi Quinn said “(helping residents during the aftermath of superstorm Sandy) You made it very clear it was Point Lookout AND Lido, not just Point Lookout”. She went on to add, “I care more about this firehouse than where I am going to have a christening.”
Lido Dunes Civic Association Vice President Mike Fichtelman said, “We appreciate all the hard work. My opinion is this is not alot of money.
They are spending $50 million next door (Long Beach Boardwalk etc) so people can ride bicycles. This is about life and death and about people getting up at 2am to save our lives. This is not alot of money. ”
Greg Nahan, from Lido Homes Civic said “I wanted to do something to help. The Fire Dept needs to be attracting the younger generation.
“We do have our functions here,” he said of the spartan room we were in. “It would be helpful to the team you have here, can this room be upgraded to be more than it is?”
Andy said some small work is already planned for the sparse room, it was open for discussion, but the funds would have to come from somewhere.
Point Lookout Chamber of Commerce leader Richard Zampella spoke of the fact that people on fixed incomes and the younger generation are finding it hard to afford to live here. He alluded to dwindling membership from younger people in town.
Andy said the younger generation needs to step up and become more involved in the fire department. Their membership is needed.
A little later some of the younger members of the District arrived and were introduced as the next generation of the Department, to the applause of the crowd.
Another resident asked how come a bond, and not a grant from FEMA was needed. It was explained, after some chuckles, the department has tried for federal grant money before and only an incredibly small number of firehouses get money nationwide from FEMA. We were knocked out in the first round. He did say over recent years, they had applied for numerous grants and had received over $700,000 in grants that paid for most of the pumper truck and other things.
It was asked what would happen if they did end up getting money from Sandy etc. They said rather than lowering the amount you would pay annually, any amounts received, once paid, would retire the bonds sooner.
Commissioner Richter said “We were going to save it (asking for a bond issue rather than general fund and grants covering expenses) for when we really needed it. Now we believe we really need it and we need your support.
“The ultimate answer rests with you coming out and voting that this is a worthwhile endeavor”.