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Historic FDNY fireboat in Greenport: Restoration grants sought

The Greenport Fireboat Firefighter Museum is pictured on

The Greenport Fireboat Firefighter Museum is pictured on Sept. 24, 2013. Credit: Randee Daddona

The group that owns the historic 1938 New York City Fire Department fireboat docked in Greenport and once mired in a dispute over its stay there is seeking a grant of up to $112,500 to pay for inspection, repairs and restoration costs.

The Fire Fighter may need $150,000 in work, said Charlie Ritchie, president of the Fireboat Fire Fighter Museum, the nonprofit that bought the boat in 2013, brought it to Greenport and is working to convert it into a museum.

Ritchie said he is seeking a New York State grant that could cover 50 percent to 75 percent of those costs. The nonprofit would have to raise the rest. The deadline for the application is June 16.

"Hopefully, by this time next year, the hull will be in good shape and we'll be underway," Ritchie said. He added that the work includes sand blasting and painting the hull.

The push for funding comes amid the resolution of a dispute over its location.

Last year and early this year, Suffolk County threatened to evict the boat from Railroad Dock in Greenport, saying it was there without permission. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority leases the dock to the county, which subleases it to the village.

In April, the Greenport Village Board voted to allow the 134-foot boat to stay on a month-to-month basis, Deputy Mayor George Hubbard said. The village is now in talks with the county as it seeks to lease the dock directly from the MTA, he said.

"I think it's a very interesting, historic item," Hubbard said. "I think it's going to work out well."

The nonprofit pays $200 a month to rent dock space, Ritchie said.

Suffolk is willing to allow the boat to stay as the talks progress, said Legis. Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue). He said he has met with village officials several times on the topic.

"It's good to have local control," Krupski said.

Ritchie said uncertainty over the boat's future made it difficult to raise money and recruit volunteers, but the situation improved this spring.

"It's definitely a positive thing from a number of angles," Ritchie said. "Establishing a community connection is really important. Constantly being pushed out, or the threat of being pushed out, it upsets your whole organization."

The boat is open for free tours on weekends.

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