Two years after angering residents of Cobble Hill and Williamsburg by closing their sole firehouses, the city is again drawing fire for this week’s announcement that the buildings themselves might be sold.
“It was my fear that the FDNY would never return — now, that fear is confirmed,” said Assemblywoman Joan Millman (D-Cobble Hill) at a Tuesday rally in front of Engine 204 on Degraw Street.
Engine 204 and Engine 212, which is on Wythe Street in booming Williamsburg, were shut down after the city claimed that firehouses from neighboring communities could handle their emergencies.
Now the city has started the process of selling the properties to developers — who would pay top dollar for historic buildings in such hot neighborhoods.
But that’s the irony, Millman said: Cobble Hill is experiencing a huge influx of residents and businesses, making a firehouse even more necessary.
Converting a firehouse to an apartment building only makes things worse.
“Cobble Hill has no firehouse,” said Millman. “And response times are definitely up.”
Response time did increase by 34 seconds after the closing of Engine 204, but city officials said Cobble Hill residents still get a firetruck faster than the city average.
Millman was one of a dozen people — including actor and former firefighter Steve Buscemi — arrested at a protest when the firehouse originally closed.
Before the former firehouses can be sold, the buildings must go through the city’s seven-month Uniform Land-Use Review Procedure, which allows for substantial public input.
Mark Daly, a spokesman for the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, said the buildings might not go to the highest bidder, but could end up being purchased by a non-profit.
“Either way, the difference between an empty firehouse and a working building is evident,” he said.