I would like the Hicksville Illustrated News to consider doing what many reputable newspapers do when printing Letters to the Editor. That is to identify the organizations or affiliations of the writers when it is relevant to the subject matter of the letter.
It is relevant for Hicksville residents to know that the seventh-grader whose letter was printed in [the Oct. 15, 2004 issue] is the daughter of the Hicksville Fire District's public relations person.
Briggs Neighborhood Committee member
I've been following this issue ever since I attended the first open meeting at the main firehouse several months ago, which the Hicksville Board of Fire Commissioners sponsored to bring the residents up to speed on the project and to address any concerns.
The fire commissioners gave their report first. Then I listened to the reasons that the opponents of the renovation gave, which were basically the cost and its impact on taxes, the possible use of eminent domain in the renovation. And, there were several minor points about parking, gym equipment and a kitchen adding to the cost.
Even though the commissioners clearly stated that the renovations would be paid for from a special fund set up many years ago for capital expenditures, would have no impact on taxes and that they were not going to use eminent domain to seize anyone's property for the renovations, the opponents still used these arguments in several news releases after that meeting and at the Hicksville Gardens Civic Association meeting held at the library several weeks ago.
I asked myself, why? And the only logical conclusion I could come to was that without those two hot button issues, they're left with their parking concerns, which should be no worse than the current status quo since the new building will be almost the same size. Or wanting to deny the volunteers some creature comforts like a decent kitchen and a place to keep in shape. Not much to rally the troops around is it?
In my opinion, what it really boils down to is that three out of the four charter members of the Briggs Street Neighborhood Committee either bought their homes not realizing what living next to a firehouse was like or they got such a good deal when they bought that they thought it wouldn't matter. Apparently it does.
Now they see their golden opportunity to rectify their mistake and increase their property values in the bargain. And they don't seem to be the least bit concerned that it will have a negative impact on the fire safety of everyone now served by that firehouse. A small price to pay for a little peace and quiet, don't you think?
On Wednesday Oct. 13 at approximately 8:50 a.m. the Hicksville Fire Department responded to a general alarm report of a house fire at 40 Elm Street in Hicksville. Upon arrival Chief Steven Doucette found heavy fire on the first floor and was told by residents that there may be people inside. He transmitted a working fire and that he would be going in a for a search.
The first due engine company was #932 from the Briggs Street Station. On arrival of the second due engine, #937 from Station #4 on Levittown Parkway (of which I was the officer), the crew from #932 already had water on the fire and was advancing in. This is the same company that the "Briggs Street Committee" wants to move to one of the many suggested brownfields such as the one on Tudor Road off South Oyster Bay Road. If this move had been in place on Oct. 13, in my opinion, there was a good chance that the house next to the fire building would have been severely impacted before the arrival of unit #937 not to mention the safety of Chief Doucette if he had not exited the house safely.
Just two weeks prior, on Wednesday night Sept. 29, the same scenario played out again on Richards Street. Upon arrival the house was fully involved with possible homeless people inside, again engine #932 was the first due engine company. It has been a busy two weeks for us, but this is not out of the ordinary for the members of the Hicksville Fire Department.
The Briggs Street Committee, at a public meeting held last month at the Hicksville Public Library, stated that they would have no objection to Station 2 remaining and said that if Engine #932 were moved the ambulance could stay. At the same meeting, as hard as it seems, Mrs. Quackenbush, a member of the Briggs Street Committee's board, (who by the way, lives on the other side of town) stated, when asked about the conditions at Station 2, that she has never been in the firehouse.
Station 2 has in their response area a high percentage of single-family homes, mom and pop businesses and light industry, not to mention the Woodland Avenue School, East Street School and Willet Avenue School. You only have to look back to Jan, 29, 1990 when a fire struck the Fork Lane School at 2:19 p.m. Upon my arrival as 1st Assistant Chief, I encountered a fully involved classroom with extension to a second classroom and students being evacuated. I thank God that no students, teachers or my members were hurt that day.
Can we, as members of the Hicksville Fire Department, protect the lives and property without Engine Company 2? In my opinion, yes we can, but at what price? Will it be at the expense of the people who live on the northeast side of town or the membership of the Hicksville Fire Department because a few people bought their house next to Station 2 years after it was built and don't like the noise or the lights shining in their house or the membership leaving or exiting the firehouse.
The Briggs Street Committee has time after time rejected any compromise the board of fire commissioners has offered them and [the board] has gone on record stating they will not condemn any property around Station 2. The Briggs Street Committee says that their fight is not with the membership of the Hicksville Fire Department but with the board. Well, let me tell the Briggs Street Committee of four that when you endanger the lives of the membership of the Hicksville Fire Department and the lives and property of the residents of Hicksville, your fight just became my fight.
It saddens me that in this day and age that such a small group of people can twist the facts to push there agenda without any regard to the truth or for there community. Please, the residents of Hicksville, investigate the facts, ask questions attend the board of fire commissioners' meetings, but above all don't let the Briggs Street Committee close or move Station 2.
ex-Chief Patrick Scanlon