Cedarhurst renews fire department contract
Cedarhurst Village has renewed its contract for fire protection services with the Cedarhurst-Lawrence Fire Department -- an agreement that also would pay for the village's portion of a $2 million expansion of the department's out-of-date firehouse.
Cedarhurst Mayor Andrew Parise on Monday signed the five-year, $1.84 million contract, plus an agreement to fund more than $750,000 to cover its share of the expansion.
But Lawrence Village officials have not approved a contract extension or authorized their portion of the renovation costs. As a result, fire protection services to Lawrence could be disrupted, fire officials warned, even though village officials have said they support the addition.
"The membership is irate about working without a long-term contract since June 1, 2011, and the delay of this building expansion," fire Commissioner Edward Koehler said Wednesday. "Technically the membership could say, 'We don't want to come,' and calls from Lawrence could go unanswered. I hope that doesn't happen."
Lawrence, where the firehouse is located, has approved construction permits, but the department has yet to obtain them, Koehler said. "For some reason, they are dragging their feet," said Koehler, adding he plans to be at the Lawrence Village board meeting Thursday night at 8.
Lawrence Mayor Martin Oliner disputed Koehler's claims, saying a building permit was to be delivered to fire officials Wednesday. He said the fire contract is being renewed month-to-month and officials plan to sign a five-year extension soon. The village also has agreed to self-fund its portion of the expansion costs, he said. "Lawrence has been the driving force to get this done," he said. "For us to try to delay this would be ridiculous."
The department has proposed for three years to renovate the three-story building on Washington Avenue, constructed in 1902 and expanded in 1970, because modern trucks do not fit through its doors and the department needs extra space. The proposed extension would add two bays on the first floor, and more offices and training rooms on the second floor.
The villages cover the majority of the department's $1 million operating budget.