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EDITORIAL: Fire district consolidation for the better

For decades Fair Harbor and Lonelyville, tiny Fire Island communities, have shared a firehouse and related services.

But Lonelyville, with 92 residences and 20 registered voters, kept its own fire district, budget and board.

That's set to change. The two have agreed to merge, the first fire districts in the state to do so since the N.Y. Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act, meant to ease consolidation of local government entities, took effect in March.

The consolidation will save $5,300 of Lonelyville's annual $78,600 fire district budget. The rest was already given to Fair Harbor for firefighting.

The move occasions both hope and pessimism. The hope is for an entity willing to give up turf to save taxpayers money. The pessimism stems from the existence of the Dunewood Fire District, lying between Fair Harbor and Lonelyville, which also has a board and a budget but no firefighting ability (it contracts with Fair Harbor also) and no plans to merge.

Some in Dunewood worry that consolidating would leave them outvoted by Fair Harbor residents, and powerless. Regardless, they rely on Fair Harbor for fire protection. Consolidation would likely save Dunewood only about $1,000 annually, but it would also mean the three communities sharing protection would share a fire district and board.

Congratulations to Lonelyville. Dunewood should think about following its neighbors' lead. hN