Letter from Yonkers Firefighters' Local 628's environmental lawyer to Mssrs. Amicone, Lesnick, and Ratner regarding the City's non-action on the Ridge Hill Fire House available herein.
YONKERS, NY — Yonkers Firefighters Union (I.A.F.F. Local 628) has retained the services of legal counsel to represent them and a group of negatively impacted Yonkers residents in seeking to compel the City of Yonkers, Mayor Amicone, City Council President Chuck Lesnick, and Forest City Ratner to live up to the promises and assurances made during the approval of the Ridge Hill Village project.
The City Council was the “Lead Agency” in the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) for the Ridge Hill Village project and as part of their approvals for the project, the City Council adopted two (2) “Findings” Resolutions mandating, among other things, the establishment of one (1) additional Truck Company for the City of Yonkers (with 35% of the annual costs being attributable to the Ridge Hill Village project and the building of one (1) additional Fire House (with $3,000,000 of the construction costs to be paid for by Forest City Ratner).
“To date, despite the opening of several entertainment and retail stores, and with more stores scheduled to open before September, absolutely nothing has been done to build the new Fire House or staff the Fire Company promised to the citizens of Yonkers” said Barry B. McGoey, president of the Yonkers Firefighter’s Union. “We have raised this issue on numerous occasions for at least the past three (3) years to the Mayor, the City Council President and the entire City Council. We were met with excuses and empty promises with Mayor Amicone blaming the Yonkers City Council for not appropriating money for the purchase of a suitable site for the fire house and the City Council blaming the Mayor for not identifying a parcel of land and negotiating a purchase price. It’s way past time for both the Mayor and the City Council to stop playing the blame game and to do their job.”
In a blistering letter to all of the above parties, the attorney for the Yonkers Firefighters states that all parties involved “have completely and utterly failed to follow through on the necessary measures to ensure that Ridge Hill would not and will not adversely impact the City’s ability to provide adequate fire protection services.” The letter calls upon the City Council to enact legislation requiring: the City to immediately locate and acquire the necessary land for the Fire House; directing the City to commence design and construction of the Fire House as soon as feasible, and requiring Forest City Ratner to immediately fund a $3,000,000 escrow account to cover its share of the costs of that new Fire House. Alternatively, the City Council should revoke or rescind the approvals and zoning changes it made for the project.
Local 628 President McGoey said “I have instructed our attorney to take all steps necessary to ensure that the mitigation measures promised in the SEQRA review and the resulting findings (the construction of a new Fire House and establishment of an additional Truck Company) are implemented and that the City and the developer deliver on the promises and assurances they made when they sought approval of this massive project. We have been joined by numerous residents of the surrounding area who were quite vocal in opposition to the project when it was proposed because of the negative impact it would have on them, including the drain on fire and emergency services. It was because of their legitimate fears that both the City and the developer agreed to provide the area with additional fire protection services. Indeed, the developer agreed to put up $3,000,000 towards the construction of a new Fire House in order to secure a (second) favorable vote from the City Council as Lead Agency.”
McGoey continued, “We are hopeful that Forest City Ratner will join us in requesting that the City live up to the promised additional fire protection, not just for Ridge Hill Village, but also for the neighboring communities. Forest City Ratner has promised $3,000,000 towards the construction of a new Fire House, but it is the City’s obligation to design, plan, and build the Fire House. We expect Forest City Ratner to live up to every promise they made to the citizens of Yonkers, including the one that they would mitigate the negative impacts the project would have on fire protection services for the rest of Yonkers. As good neighbors and responsible developers we expect Forest City Ratner to join us and request that the City of Yonkers implement the mitigation measures outlined in the SEQRA Finding and construct a new Fire House and establish a new Truck Company.”
McGoey concluded, “We are going to hold the City of Yonkers and Forest City Ratner to their promises. To do otherwise would endanger the safety and lives of the citizens of Yonkers and the residents of Ridge Hill, as well as the safety and lives of the Yonkers Firefighters.”