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Fair Harbor Sixish  

FLASH:  update: 6/06


The FH community voiced virtually unanimous rejection of the Fire Commissioners proposed 'new' fire facility throughout the Winter and Spring via a public forum of e-mail. A voter registration drive was conducted. The result was impressive. Voter registration more than tripled (from around 60 to over 180). This was a clear indicator that the  FH community would not approve the  Commissioners proposed 'new' fire facility. The  primary objection was that the planned structure (over 40 feet high) would be out of character with the surrounding  Fair Harbor downtown promenade.  Another objection was the cost (currently $2.5 million). The unanimous lack of support for the Commissioners proposal was reiterated at the May 12th Fire Commissioners Public Meeting . At this meeting, around 40 residents rose to reject the Commissioners proposal. Not one resident spoke in support of the  Commissioners' proposal.


Currently the public must vote in person for Fire District votes and referendums. While this may seem trivial, the  fact is (per NYS Law), elections of Commissioners must take place in December. This places a huge burden on voters. Ferries run infrequently...most homeowners have shut off their water...and the limited voting hours add to the burden.


At the May 12th public meeting, the issue regarding absentee ballots was raised. Discussion of absentee ballots all but supplanted debate regarding the proposed 'new' fire facility. NYS Law provides that Fire Commissioners have the right to allow absentee ballots for all Fire District votes and referendums. It was evident that the Fair Harbor Community was pleading with their Fire Commissioners to allow absentee ballots. The Fire Commissioners responded by stating that they heard the outcry of the community. The Fire Commissioners stated that they would consider the issue and get back to the community with their response. To date the Fire Commissioners have not issued their decision. While there may be ways to force the Commissioners to adopt absentee ballots, the community should not have to go to such extreme measures. Convenient voting is a right of all Americans for all elections.


It was clear to FH residents that there is need to modernize and improve the existing fire facility. No attendees disagreed. The community wants an efficient and comfortable facility for their beloved volunteers. This was clear and unanimous. The addition of the essential EMS alone necessitates this renovation. The facility is regularly used by the FHCA. This places additional demands on our volunteers and the facility.



5/14 The FH Fire Commissioners, after hearing unanimous opposition from the F.H. community regarding their plan, have retracted the plan to hold a referendum. The Commissioners stated that they are going back to the drawing board and are revising their plan to address community concerns.

Currently, registered voters must vote in person. Fire Commissioners, by law, have the authority to allow absentee ballots. At the May 12th public meeting, when the FH Fire Commissioners refused to consider absentee balloting for this referendum and all Fire District votes there was a serious outcry from the community.

The Fair Harbor community clearly feels that absentee ballots must be allowed for all Fire District votes. Keep in mind that regular elections of Commissioners are held in December. Needless to say, most registered voters are not available to vote, in person, in Fire Island, in December

 May 15, 2007

Dear Community Members,

In acknowledgment of the broad consensus of the many people who spoke at Saturday's

meeting in favor of continuing to look at alternative ideas and approaches for renovating the

firehouse, and with the hope that a calmer, more deliberative and cooperative process can

be achieved, we've voted unanimously to cancel the referendum scheduled for June 19.

Several speakers noted that there are many talented residents among us who are

professionals in the areas of architecture and building construction management and that

these talents could be brought to bear in order to help us move forward. Our neighbor,Robert Buxbaum, has consented to organize an independent committee of such professionals,with the idea of developing alternative plans. We welcome this constructive input; we will shortly be providing Robert with a breakdown of the interior space requirements and Fire

Department needs. So please contact Robert if you think you can help in these areas as time is of the essence to meet 2008 construction planning requirements. He can be reached at and at (212) 279-1981(Office).

We appreciate how many of you took the time to attend and make your voices heard at the meeting. It is our sincere hope that without the tension of a looming referendum we can all turn our attention to the important business of enjoying our island paradise this summer.


Board of Fire Commissioners

Fair Harbor Fire Department

fh_corliss_1999.jpg (17515 bytes)   

Through the Winter and into Spring emails flooded cyberspace as citizens scurried to air their opinions, official reports were corrected and can follow the development of the issue through these official notices




Issued February 2007




At the September 2006 meeting of the Fair Harbor Community Association (Community Association) the Fair Harbor Fire District Commissioners (Commissioners) proposed replacing/renovating the existing firehouses. At the meeting members of the community raised many questions and concerns. The Commissioners are in the process of updating their proposal to address these community concerns. To date we have not seen this revised plan.


Before the Commissioners can proceed with the renovation they are required to bring the matter to a vote. Being a property owner does not automatically entitle you to vote. To have your voice heard, you must be registered to vote in Fair Harbor . Issues regarding voter registration will be addressed in a separate document.


In October 2006 the Commissioners requested that the Community Association create a committee to funnel concerns to the Commissioners and keep the community informed. Members of the committee are Bob Jaffe, Bill Neuman, and Jerry Feder. The committee's charter is to research and provide information about the Commissioners proposal that enables the community to make an informed decision.  Following are results of the initial research done by Bob and Jerry.


The community fully supports the efforts of our volunteer firemen and EMS workers. They perform an outstanding and essential service to the community. Our new EMS capability is an exemplary model for neighboring communities. We sincerely appreciate the efforts of our volunteer firemen and EMS workers.



September 2006 

The Commissioners propose demolishing the "old" structure (fronts on Bay Walk) and replacing it with a completely new structure. The proposed height of the new structure would be 42'. The current firehouse height at Bay Walk is 9' (peak is 21'). Islip building code allows structures up to 28' in Fair Harbor .


This new structure would extend 5' further into the bay front promenade and be raised 3' to remedy existing flood issues (as required by code). This necessitates a ramp which will encroach an additional 5' into the bay front promenade (for a total 10'). Community events utilize this area for events such as the Pine Walk Fair, The FHCA Barbeque, and Holiday Services. The Commissioners have stated that code requirements might be relaxed and that raising the building and the ramp may not be necessary.


The structure would be two stories. The first floor would be primarily for community events (in season), and will include bathrooms and a kitchen. It is designed to house fire vehicles and will have large (11') doors to provide access. The second floor would have a dedicated training/assembly room/lounge and offices for the Commissioners and EMT.


The Commissioners also propose an addition to the "new' firehouse (fronts on Pine Walk, replacing the tent) to house our new EMS vehicle and equipment.


These are all the details that are currently available.




Comments received by the committee on the Commissioners proposal have been overwhelmingly negative. Comments include the following:


1)      The structure is massive relative to neighboring dwellings. The new structure would be twice as high as the existing structure (21' vs. 42'). The front wall of the firehouse (facing bay Walk) would go from 9' to 42'. The size and height of the proposed building will negatively impact the gateway to Fair Harbor .

2)      The $2.4 million estimated cost is out of line compared to the cost of new facilities in neighboring communities (see Table 1). Bond repayments would result in an estimated increase of $250-$400 in average property taxes for the next 20-25 years. This is $5,000-$10,000 per household causing hardship for many residents.

3)      The larger footprint of the proposed firehouse and ramp would extend into the bay front area in front of the firehouse. This encroaches into an area used heavily by the community.

4)      The proposal offers little increase in vehicle storage space and therefore does not solve an important and recurring problem.

5)      The Commissioners proposal does not explain how these renovations will improve the quality of fire protection.

6)      Alternative proposals have not been sufficiently explored (there are no cost estimates).

7)      Alternatives worth consideration are:


Reconstructing and adding an additional floor to the "New" firehouse (fronts on Pine Walk). This is a less prominent location.

Gut renovation of the "old" firehouse (fronts on Bay Walk)

Acquisition of additional property to accommodate vehicle storage

A partial second floor addition to the "old firehouse" (fronts on Pine Walk). This
addition would be sited to minimize visibility and impact.

Combinations of the above


We hope the Commissioner's revised plan will address these issues.




Dunewood and Lonelyville EMS and fire services are provided by the Fair Harbor Fire District (FHFD) under contract. The Dunewood and Lonelyville Fire Districts assessed taxes to cover their costs for these services. The expectation is that Dunewood and Lonelyville would contribute their fair share to the cost of the proposed renovation. Questions remain as to the extent of Dunewood and Lonelyville's participation and whether their voters need to approve the plan.




The Community Association plans to conduct a poll of the community after the Commissioners present their revised plan. While this poll is not binding, it should be indicative of the wishes of the community at large. Other major projects (including Erosion Control and the Water District) have been decided by this method.


We hope that the Commissioners will respect the desires of the entire Fair Harbor community, and not pursue any plan for which there is not widespread community support.





The committee felt it was essential to compare FHFD facilities and costs with neighboring communities. Following is a summary of our findings  which represents the best information currently available:




Table 1 (below) provides a comparative cost overview including Saltaire and Kismet.


The Fair Harbor EMS/FD services Fair Harbor , Dunewood and Lonelyville. Services are provided to (approx.) 556 homes. There are approximately 30 calls per year. These calls are predominantly for EMS .


The Saltaire EMS/FD services 400 homes in Saltaire. Saltaire EMS also provides service to Kismet. Including Kismet, Saltaire provides EMS to a total of around 613 homes.


The Kismet FD provides (only) fire services to 213 homes in Kismet plus the area to the west extending to Democrat point. This includes Robert Moses State Park . This coverage explains why Kismet is the busiest fire department on the west end. They handle about 10 times the number of fire calls when compared to Fair Harbor and Saltaire. Kismet has significant year round occupancy and assists other communities off season.


All three communities appreciate and feel well served by their EMS and Fire services.







Sept Proposal

Annual Budget (x 1,000)





Building Cost (adjusted for inflation x 1,000)





Number of Houses Protected-Fire





Number of Houses Protected-EMS





Annual Tax Cost per House





Firehouse Building Cost per House





Building Floor Space (sq. ft)

1st fl - 2750

2nd Fl - ?



~400 EMS shed


Number of Vehicles***





TABLE 1: Comparative Overview and Costs


*The building cost of the Kismet firehouse (constructed in 2004) was reduced by substantial volunteer efforts, particularly for construction of the upstairs lounge area.


** FHFD Commissioners estimate-September 2006


*** Est. (December 2006). All three fire departments have plans for disposing of obsolete vehicles and have additional acquisitions in progress. Fair Harbor has the most vehicles. Fair Harbor will continue to have more vehicles than the others.



FHFD budget has increased by 46.8% over the last three years, before factoring in any new building expenses. Kismet and Saltaire have not seen similar budget increases.


Fair Harbor Cost for Fire Service
2003 - 2004                 $141,423
2004 - 2005                $161,231
2005 - 2006                 $165,215
2006 - 2007                 $207,553




Table 2 (below) is a comparative facility overview including Saltaire and Kismet.


The existing FHFD facility does not satisfy Islip zoning for lot area, floor area ratio, and property line setback. It is overbuilt. It is considered by Islip to be "grandfathered" because it was built before the current zoning regulations were instituted. New construction would result in zoning reevaluation for the entire property, which will be problematic.


Kismet has sufficient equipment storage space. They maintain additional space in a separate facility on " Burma " road (now shared with Park Rangers for a fee). Kismet acquired a 14,000 square foot parcel to allow its firehouse to be constructed ( Fair Harbor parcel is 11,662 square feet).







Sept. Proposal

Property Size (sq. ft.)





Building Total Floor Area (sq. ft.)

1st fl - 2750

2nd fl - ?


4597 +

~400 EMS tent


Building Height




9' at front


42' at front

Number of Stories





Equipment Bays




4 + EMS tent + Assembly room


Separate Assembly Room for Training





Separate Bar/Lounge





Separate Exercise Room


(Bar Lounge)









Number of Bathrooms





Number of Offices/Desks


1 office

2 desks


2 offices

 2 desks

Separate Utility Room

Uniforms + Equip





Table 2: Comparison of Facilities and Equipment


Comparison of facilities in Saltaire and Kismet reveals a mixed picture. In some respects, FHFD facilities are superior to these communities. In other respects, particularly in exercise and recreation, FHFD facilities fall short. Fair Harbor also has a severe and recurrent problem of having to move stored vehicles in and out of the assembly room ("Old" Fire House) for community events, causing ongoing extra work

for fire department personnel.  Saltaire and Kismet do not store vehicles in their assembly room. Their assembly rooms are available for community events.



The Fair Harbor firehouses unquestionably need to be modernized and improved.

Our volunteers deserve an efficient and comfortable environment.

But the plan presented in September 2006 is big and  costly.


The proposed plan would change forever the look and feel of the Fair Harbor bay front.


  • It is too massive for our quaint 'downtown' promenade (42 feet at the front vs. the current 9'). Structure will cast a big shadow. It is out of keeping with our small scale downtown promenade.
  • The proposed Fair Harbor firehouse is 2.6 times more expensive than the Saltaire Firehouse (adjusted for inflation). It is 5.6 times more expensive than Kismet (adjusted for inflation). Kismet firehouse is 3 years old. Saltaire firehouse is 11 years old.
  • If approved, Fair Harbor Fire District annual budget will be 4 times higher than Kismet or Saltaire.
  • It does not solve issues of jockeying vehicles and equipment for alternate uses of the firehouse


We have conveyed our concerns to the Fair Harbor Fire District Commissioners.  We hope that their revised proposal will address these issues.  We expect to see their revised proposal in March 2007.


We will keep the community informed of all additional information on this important issue as it comes available.  We welcome your feedback.




FHCA: Minutes of the Meeting with Fire Commissioners on March 10th.


MARCH 10, 2007



Old Existing (fronts on Bay Walk): 36' 6" (D) x 61' (W) x 22 (H)-2227 sq ft (1600 for community access)

New Existing (Fronts on Pine Walk): 40' (D) X 59 (W) X 24 (H)-2360 sq ft

New Structure (Fronts on Bay Walk): 43' (D) x 62' (W) x 35' (H)-Front face at bay Walk is 32 feet First Floor-2666 sq ft (1800 sq ft for community-not inc some storage) Second Floor-2350 sq ft (not including 'large' attic)

New EMS Structure (Fronts on Pine Walk): Their guess is 25' (W) x 30' (D) x 24' (H)-750 sq. ft.


They will not build if ramp is required 

North wall of new building will not exceed 3 feet closer too bay (Front wall will be no more that 3 feet further north compared with existing structure)

No posts needed to hold cantilevered Deck

Elevator/stairs juts out 6 feet.

There will be a big attic



FHFD Present an overview to FHFD Membership     March 18 at Commissioners meeting

HAND Over Document too us for Review                  March 18

FHFD Mailing too Community (US mail)            April 1 in hands out community_)

FHFD Pass Resolution too hold referendum      April 15 commissioners meeting

Public notice in Islip Bulletin                 30 days prior to Vote?

Public Hearing                                      Sunday, June 10

The Referendum                                 Tuesday, June 19th 6-9 PM

Bidding Process                                   6 months ending Around New Years

Variances/Zoning                                They address if/when Islip has issues

THE $$$

This year FHFD budget is $323k (2007)-FH Share is $207K/DW is $55K/Lonley is $60K

This includes $60k of bulkhead

This includes $40K debt service for 2006

They Pay $35K insurance

Bond Amt will be $2.4 million

They will pay with a 6% serial 15 yr bond.approx $5.90/$1000. Approx $400 PER HOUSEHOLD for all 3 towns

Dunewood and Lonelyville will combine to pay 1/3 of all new structure cost.

They say they might not be regulated by "normal' Islip zoning restrictions.they say that FEMA is not providing them with flood insurance so no FEMA issue

They said they expect no DEC involvement.

Deal Killers if any of these occur.

If building has to be raised 3 ft plus ramp added.

If bids come back at more then $2.4M.

If Dunewood and Lonelyville don't commit to a 15 year contract.


I congratulate Bob and Jerry on the time they have spent to put the document together.  However, there are numerous inaccuracies contained with in this report.  For example, Kismet is not the busiest dept. on the west end of the island.  They provide NO EMS service what so ever.  To my knowledge, we answered over 30 calls for EMS alone this year, in addition to the fire calls.  Please keep in mind, these calls occur with in a very short period of time and sometimes require several hours to resolve.  The people responding to these calls are taking a tremendous amount of time out their personal and business lives to service our community.  It should be also be noted that we have had to respond to calls in Saltaire and Kismet when they haven't the personnel available to answer alarms within their own communities.  There are almost no benefits for time we spend training and answering alarms, except the feeling of helping our fellow neighbors.  It is not very encouraging when the community, we sacrifice so much for, does not support us.  For example, Ocean Beach has a pension plan for its members as do almost all mainland fire departments.  While I do not feel that we have the economic tax base to support this, it should be noted that we are not requesting one from the community.  Saltaire has received generous contributions in the past from their community members to help fund their growth as a dept.  I cannot remember the last time we received a large contribution, if ever.  Please do not send this out to the general public until you have time to make corrections.  I feel this report at present would unfairly bias the community against any renovation and start this project out on an poor footing.  There are many good ideas mentioned most of which I feel members of the dept. would agree with.  For example, the height of the building.  Please remember that the members of the dept. are also members of the community.  I don't think we should encourage an "us against them" attitude.  I am currently away on vacation and would be more than happy to further discuss this with you, Bob, and/or Jerry. As I feel that it is important to work together and get the community the most accurate information. Thank you for the opportunity to review this. 
Brendan Reynolds
1st Assistant Chief

  February 22, 2007

Subject: FHCA: Committee Report on the status of the proposed Fire House Renovation Gene Levy

We have been asking the Fire commissioners for the last 2 months to correct any errors in the committee report.  We have given them one more opportunity by sharing this final report with them before presenting it to the community.
The commissioners have never responded to our requests to correct any factual errors, and while they continue to claim that there are errors we have no idea what they might be.
We can do no more.

April 11, 2007

Re: Proposed Firehouse Improvement Project

Dear Fair Harbor Neighbor,

By this time, you should have received the Fair Harbor Fire Distict (FHFD) mailing for the Proposed Fire House Renovation. Hopefully, you have read this in-depth and understand the issues and reasons for the proposed work. We know that many of you have questions, ideas, opinions and concerns, some of which have been distributed by the Fair Harbor Community Association (FHCA). The Commissioners will endeavor to respond to all questions in an organized manner so that all concerned will have the benefit of our responses.

We intend to collect all of the questions and distribute a composite of questions and answers to the entire community by mid-May. Any questions left unanswered will be addressed at the June 10, 2007 Public Meeting at the Firehouse.

Please understand that while we appreciate individuals' ideas regarding what is to be done, and how it should be done, we have spent two (2) years studying various options and designs, and believe that we have selected the most viable option, which is a two story building to replace the "Old Firehouse" with a new EMS Bay at the rear, and some minor renovation to the "New Firehouse".

Having said that, we are open to making changes to the proposed design from an architectural standpoint, and we would like to discuss this with the community.

Please also note that we will not respond to e-mails which offer no constructive comments or opinions, but are composed of insults or accusations which denigrate the Department and its Members, nor to any other non-productive communication.

Very truly yours,

On behalf of the Board of Fire Commissioners

Neal M. Rudikoff, P.E. Commissioner



April 25, 2007

The following is a response to points raised on April 24 by Richard Cherveney, Brendon Reynolds, Ray Accettella, and Jesse Ostrow regarding the April FHCA Committee report by Bob Jaffe and Jerry Feder.  Comments on several earlier drafts were considered prior to the documents' release. We appreciate the additional comments and opportunity to fill in some details. The main points of our original document are unchanged.

A.      Number of Calls: We appreciate the offering of precise fire and EMS call records and accept the numbers offered. Our numbers were estimates based on discussions with officers and members of the respective fire departments.  The updated numbers do not affect our overall findings.

B.      Number of vehicles. The offered comment regarded our lack of consideration of the size of vehicles in our count.  This is true. We did not do an analysis of vehicle size. However, Saltaire vehicles fit in a 3,865 square foot building, which also includes a separate community assembly room not used for vehicle storage. Fair Harbor currently has approximately 5,000 square feet of space, and assembly room space is shared with vehicles. Whatever the vehicle sizes, Fair Harbor appears to require much more space to store them.

C.      Saltaire Operating Costs: This proved to be one of the most difficult parts of our analysis because of the difference in accounting between the two communities. We spent time with Saltaire officials and believe that our budget portrayal is solid and fair. Saltaire pays only $17,500 directly to their Volunteer Fire Department. The difference between this and the $167,000 that we reported as the Saltaire Fire/EMS budget consists of $47,000 spent for bond repayments on their firehouse and a large pumper , a $35,000 increment for insurance purchased by the Village that covers the Fire Department, and $67,500 for fire/ EMS related items such as a new mule and advanced defibrillator plus expense items paid by the village.

D.      Restrooms: We have nothing further to offer other than that the FHFD proposal has five bathrooms and firehouses for the other villages each have two.

E.       Construction Costs:  We did use CPI as the inflation index. Although CPI may be challengeable as a price adjustment factor, we did receive comments from representatives of other villages who had overseen firehouse construction that the proposed building costs looked too high. H2M was cited as a company that likes to specify expensive things. We also believe that that our building specification may have yielded an expensive configuration, some of whose features may not have been necessary.

F.       Vehicle Storage: We respectfully disagree that the plan to store vehicles has been "carefully thought through." The proposal does not provide any space for the chief's car.  If no equipment is to be stored in the renovated building then the car will have to stored elsewhere in Fair Harbor, probably in a shed on Central and Elm. FHFD plans for this have not been publicized.

The need to move vehicles in an out of the firehouse to make room for community events has been a problem for decades and taken an undue toll on our fire/EMS volunteers. This problem was promised to the community to be solved by the "New" firehouse. Here, at the threshold of an expensive project intended to solve problems going forward for many years to come, we feel that the plan should comfortably accommodate current needs with allowance for those of the future. Inability to follow through with the previous commitment to not store vehicles in the "Old" firehouse further raises our concerns.

G.      Firehouse Availability for Community Events: We fully agree that the members of the Fire Department have been extremely cooperative in going out of their way to move equipment in and out of the "Old" firehouse to make way for community events. However, the FHFD plan being offered is notably weak on provisions for vehicle storage and appears to incorporate other things that should be lower in priority. We would love to see a permanent resolution of the burden on the fire department and community of the need to move vehicles.

In summary, the main points of our original document are unchanged. The new comments offered do not alter our basic findings regarding bay-front impact, aesthetics, cost, and vehicle storage. The only "factual error" that we observe is the corrected precise fire/EMS call counts, which we appreciate.

 Jerry Feder and Bob Jaffe

As has always been our policy the FHCA intends to act as a conduit for individuals who would like to reach the community with their thoughts on important issues.  The correspondence on the proposed Firehouse Renovation falls into this category.

  April 24, 2007  Dear Neighbors,The purpose of this email is (I) to correct some factual errors that were contained in a report distributed on April 13, 2007 entitled "FHCA Committee Report on FHFD Commissioners Proposal," and (II) to provide some additional information regarding a few other concerns that have been expressed in the ongoing discussion about the proposed renovation.

I.  FHCA Committee Report on FHFD Commissioners Proposal

 A.      Call volume

The correct 2004, 2005 and 2006 call volumes for Fair Harbor and Saltaire are as follows:

 Fair Harbor  Saltaire 2004   2005    2006    2004    2005    2006
Fire                        15        10        7                                              11        15        19

EMS/Rescue*        13        32        35                                            72        37        54

    Total                  28        42        42                                             83        52        73


* FHFD began EMS operations in July 2004

While comparable numbers for Kismet are not currently available, we can assure you that Kismet has a lower call volume than either Fair Harbor or Saltaire.  Kismet also does not provide EMS coverage, which by far constitutes the majority of calls.  It would be a mistake to conclude that Kismet has the largest call volume among the west-end communities. It is also important to note that to think of call volume as a measure of workload is somewhat misleading because it does not begin to take into account all the training and drills that are required to perform well when calls occur.

B.      Number of Vehicles

While it is correct that FHFD maintains a total of 11 vehicles, it important to note that fully 5 of the vehicles are little more than golf carts. They are there only to enable the Department to operate on our narrow wooden walks. Saltaire and Kismet have wider walks and thus do not require these specialized vehicles.

C.      Operating Costs

While the document does contain a footnote acknowledging that certain costs borne by the Fire District in Fair Harbor are assumed by the Village of Saltaire - not the Saltaire Fire District - this point deserves more prominence. The Saltaire Village pays for, among other things, equipment, (e.g., turnout gear, vehicles, self-contained breathing apparatus), insurance, maintenance of all buildings and vehicles, fuel and training --  all costs which, in the case of Fair Harbor, are borne by the Fire District. An important thing to keep in mind in comparing costs between Saltaire and Fair Harbor is the overall tax burden, which is much higher in Saltaire.

D.      Restrooms

In order for the Bay Beach to operate and have lifeguard coverage in compliance with Suffolk County rules, public restrooms are required.  Even though the bathrooms in the current Firehouse are not set up as public facilities, the Fire Department and Fire District have made them available to insure the continued presence of lifeguards on the Bay Beach.  For the proposed new facility it was felt that this fact should be incorporated into the plan by providing outside public access to restrooms.  In accordance with provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, these facilities must be accessible to people with disabilities.

E.       Construction Costs

It is not relevant to compare construction costs among facilities constructed at different times without adjusting specifically for inflation in construction materials and cost - using a general CPI inflator just doesn't do it. Anyone who has built or done work in their homes lately will attest to the fact that huge cost increases have occurred over the past several years.  The costs projected for the proposed facility are based on metrics widely in use in the construction industry and are a fair basis for estimating what this facility should cost to build at this time.

F.       Vehicle Storage

The proposed plan fully addresses the need for vehicle storage over the short and long term, while assuring that no vehicles will need to be stored in the front (old) house during the warm weather months.  This plan was carefully thought through in this regard. 

G.      Community Use of Firehouse

Historically, the Fire Department and the Fire District have made every effort to the make the Firehouse available for community functions, which are attended by residents of Fair Harbor, Dunewood and Lonelyville. In recent years the number of such functions has increased and currently include, for example, community association meetings, the Pine Walk Fair, Bingo Night, Movie Night, special events such as plays and movies presented by community members, Pot Luck Dinner, High Holy Days observance, Fall Picnic, etc. 

At the same time, necessary additional equipment has been added for fire protection and EMS. And, even though we have simply outgrown our space, the facilities are still made available to the community. These events continue to happen because before and after each one, members of the Department -- in addition to all their other duties -- move vehicles to make room. While this has worked as a stop-gap, it is not sustainable over the long term.

The assertion that the Fire District has somehow reneged on a promise to "dedicate" space for community use makes no sense in light of these facts.

 II. Additional Concerns Regarding the Proposed Renovation

A.      Cost of Pumper Truck 

It had been stated in the course of the discussion that a pumper truck purchased several years ago cost $500,000. The correct cost was $300,000. It should be noted that the capacity of the public water system is limited to about 25 percent of what would be required during extended firefighting operations.  This pumper truck, which is now completely paid for, is in effect a secondary water supply system, which has already proved invaluable in the 2002 fire in Lonelyville. It was our only source of water for a considerable period during that event.  We are proud of the service this vehicle has provided and will continue to provide for many years to come.

B.      Dock

It has been stated that the Department/District purchased a vehicle that cannot be supported by the Dock and thus cannot operate effectively.  This is not true. The fact is that the Dock is structurally unsound due to improper repairs made several years ago and -- out of an abundance of caution and a desire not to further damage the dock -- the Department has refrained from bringing this vehicle onto the dock pending needed repairs. In the event of an emergency this vehicle will operate from the dock, which will sustain the weight for the duration necessary. 

Additionally, in the event of a natural or man-made disaster, this Firehouse will, of necessity, become a place of refuge as well as a place to triage and care for injured members of the three communities.  This is the only centrally located facility -- equipped with a generator, emergency supplies of food, water and medical equipment, communications equipment, etc. -- that can be self-sustaining through an emergency.  This has already been demonstrated on a small scale during the widespread power outages of 2005 and the water emergency last summer.  In these perilous and uncertain times we cannot emphasize enough how important it is for us as a community to be well prepared.

Finally, we appreciate the many supportive comments recognizing the hard work and dedication of the men and women who volunteer for the Fair Harbor Fire Department.  We are extremely fortunate to have such a talented group of people who consistently perform outstandingly.  We are proud to have one of the fastest response times in all of Suffolk County. Our recent experience in recruiting and retaining volunteers runs counter to national trends that, for variety of reasons, evidence declining numbers of volunteers in the fire service. 

The men and women of the Fair Harbor Fire Department fully understand and support the need for vigorous discussion and debate as we all strive to reach a workable solution to our current challenges and plan for the future.  

Thank you for the opportunity to share these comments. We are always available to discuss these and any other concerns you may have.


Fair Harbor Fire Department

Important Information from the Fire Commissioner's Meeting On April 22, 2007, and my Comments

This past Sunday April 22, the Fair Harbor Fire Commissioners held their monthly meeting, which had been delayed a week due to extreme weather conditions.   Fire commission meetings are open to the public, although public participation is not mandated.  

One of the agenda items Sunday was the passing of resolutions to hold the referendum on June 19th.  These resolution were discussed and passed by the commissioners, however the  Commissioners refused to take any questions about the renovation proposal from the community members who attended the meeting.

Several important items came out of the meeting and the resolutions that were passed.

1.  You must be registered by May 28th in order to vote in the referendum.

2.  The Commissioners will hold a public meeting on Saturday May 12th to discuss their proposal. This is in addition to the meeting already scheduled for June 10th.

3.  The wording of the referendum puts no constraints on the Commissioners if the referendum passes:

       - The referendum is solely about the bond issue, it is not about the renovation design that has been proposed.  If the referendum passes the Commissioners are free to build anything that they want.  The referendum does not include any requirement that they construct the building described in their March presentation, or in any other presentation that they may make to the community.  They will have total control over the final design and the ultimate cost of the proposed renovation.

        - The referendum would give the Fire Commission authorization to issue the bonds regardless of the participation of our sister communities.  If Dunewood or Lonelyville ultimately do not contribute to the funding, the Fair Harbor property owners would have to pay the entire cost, increasing the estimated tax burden by as much as one third.

Holding aside the merits of the renovation, I am concerned that the wording of the referendum would if passed cede too much power to the Commissioners in this matter.

Gene Levy