Hillcrest at a fire in New Square, November 2006 (www.hillcrestfd.org)

Hillcrest Volunteers Want Out of New Square

"The violations in the village of New Square are probably the worst example in our state’s history of noncompliance with the state codes." The line is from a letter written by Roy Scott, assistant director for regional services at the New York Department of State’s Division of Code Enforcement and Administration.

The local volunteers in the (Hillcrest) Moleston Fire District know better than any of us how dangerous the situation is in New Square. And because no politician in the Village of New Square or in the Town of Ramapo has accepted the responsibility to address the situation, the firefighters have had enough. They have sent a resolution to the Town of Ramapo stating "by unanimous vote, the Moleston Fire District does hereby petition the Town Board of the Town of Ramapo to exclude the Village of New Square from the boundaries of the Moleston Fire District." The document was passed unanimously at the regular meeting of the Board of Fire Commissioners, February 12, 2007.

Their reasons are spelled out in the three-page resolution, and they include:

The abuse responders are subjected to in New Square

The widespread code violations in the community

The absence of a full-time code enforcement official and safety inspections

The noncompliant multiple dwellings and wedding hall

The lack of cooperation from New Square school officials

The unsuccessful efforts to get officials to remedy the situation

The failure of the Ramapo Town Board to schedule a public hearing

to discuss the problem despite the requirements of Section 172-f of the

the Town law.

(The Full text of the Resolution appears at the end of this article.)

After years of being ignored, the last straw for the Hillcrest Company might have been the recent house fire in New Square that destroyed two multi-family dwellings on Clinton Lane this past February. The fire was started by an outdoor boiler room that ignited a deck, and by all accounts, it was a miracle that there were not multiple fatalities. More than 100 firefighters from 9 companies responded, but the chance event that saved the residents was the arrival back home, at 2 a.m., of a resident who saw the fire and began to alert those inside the buildings.

The resolution now sits on Supervisor St. Lawrence’s desk and the clock is running. No one knows when the next alarm will sound, but the volunteers know that they no longer want to risk their lives in an area where safety regulations are flagrantly ignored, needlessly endangering the citizens of the village of New Square and the firefighters called to put out fires there. In the past, the town has failed to do anything meaningful—now they have no choice.

Michael Castelluccio

________________________________________________________________________

RESOLUTION OF MOLESTON FIRE DISTRICT

TO THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF RAMAPO,

PURSUANT TO SECTION 172-f OF THE TOWN LAW.

 

By resolution of the Board of Fire Commissioners of the Moleston Fire District, of the Towns of Ramapo, Clarkstown and Haverstraw, County of Rockland, New York, passed unanimously at the regular meeting of the Board of Fire Commissioners held on February 12, 2007;

WHEREAS, the Moleston Fire District and the Town of Ramapo includes within its boundaries the Incorporated Village of New Square; and

WHEREAS, for several years the Moleston Fire Department has reported serious difficulties in responding to alarms within the Village of New Square, including repeated instances of abuse and violence to volunteer firefighters at alarm scenes, and serious hazards to volunteer firefighters as a result of mixed industrial and residential uses involving the storage of hazardous materials; and

WHEREAS, many structures within the Village currently are in violation of New York State Building and Fire Codes and pose serious risks of danger to the inhabitants and responding firefighters and there has been little or no progress in bringing the structures up to the applicable codes; and

WHEREAS, the Village has not hired a full-time code enforcement official to lead the Village’s code enforcement; and

WHEREAS, the Village does not perform fire safety inspections within the Village in accordance with local law or ordinance as directed by 19 NYCRR 1203; and

WHEREAS, the Village has taken no steps to obtain variances or modification of the Non-compliant multiple dwellings and wedding hall; and

WHEREAS, the Moleston Fire Department has also reported continuing difficulties in regard to the effectiveness of a part-time appointed position of Fire Inspector within the Village of New Square as well as the lack of cooperation from Village school officials in regard to school safety and maintenance, as well as in regard to inspection reports; and

WHEREAS, in an effort to resolve these problems the Moleston Fire District has approached on numerous occasions the elected and appointed officials of the Village of New Square, Town of Ramapo, County of Rockland, and State of New York in an effort to address problems of alarm response and fire safety and protection within the Village; and

WHEREAS, The Moleston Fire District has also attempted to enlist the assistance and support of the Ramapo Police Department; and

WHEREAS, the Moleston Fire District has similarly on numerous occasions approached the elders and other community leaders of the Village of New Square in an effort to address and solve these problems; and

WHEREAS, the Moleston Fire District, pursuant to Section 172-f of the Town Law, previously petitioned the Town Board in which the Village of New Square is situated, to wit: the Town Board of the Town of Ramapo, to exclude the territory of the Village of New Square from the Moleston Fire District; and

WHEREAS, in response to said petition, the Honorable Herbert Reisman, the Supervisor of the Town of Ramapo at the time, convened a meeting with the Village of New Square officials in an attempt to resolve the numerous difficulties which the fire department has repeatedly encountered in the tasks of fire prevention and fire suppression within New Square; and

WHEREAS, despite those efforts, the Moleston Fire District’s ability to assure fire protection and fire suppression within the Village of New Square continued to be hindered by the actions of the residents of the Village of New Square; and

WHEREAS, the Moleston Fire District, pursuant to Section 172-f of the Town Law, re-petitioned the Town Board in which the Village of New Square is situated, to wit: the Town Board of the Town of Ramapo, to exclude the territory of the Village of New Square from the Moleston Fire District; and

WHEREAS, the Town Board has not acted on any occasion pursuant to Section 172-f of the Town Law in scheduling a public hearing for the purpose of discussing the issues contained in the past petitions; and

WHEREAS, the Moleston Fire District’s fire protection will continue to be compromised unless all possible actions are undertaken to relieve the Moleston Fire District from its responsibility to provide fire protection and fire suppression to the Village of New Square; and

WHEREAS, the Moleston Fire District has been duly informed by its counsel that pursuant to Section 172-f of the Town Law it may petition the Town Board in which the Village of New Square is situated, to wit: the Town Board of the Town of Ramapo, to exclude the territory of the Village of New Square from the Moleston Fire District; and

WHEREAS, the Moleston Fire District believes that Village and its residents would be benefited by the removal of the Village of New Square from the Moleston Fire District which would allow for the Village to have their own Fire Department situated in the Village; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to Section 172-f of the Town Law, the Moleston Fire District desires to hold a public hearing with the members of the Town Board of Ramapo for the purpose of meeting and hearing all persons interested in the exclusion of the Village of New Square from the Moleston Fire District Boundaries.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by unanimous vote, that the Moleston Fire District does hereby petition the Town Board of the Town of Ramapo to exclude the Village of New Square from the boundaries of the Moleston Fire District.

S/___________________________ S/ ____________________________

Herbert Silverstein, Chairman Gary Wren, Commissioner

S/___________________________ S/_____________________________

Glenn Zahlmann, Commissioner Richard Bihler, Commissioner

S/___________________________

Robert Ralston, Commissioner

State of New York )

) SS.:

County of Rockland )

On the 12th day of March in the year 2007 before me, the undersigned, personally appeared Robert Ralston, Glenn Zahlmann, Gary Wren, Richard Bihler and Herbert Silverstein personally known to me or proved to me on the basis of satisfactory evidence to be the individual(s) whose name(s) is(are) subscribed to the within instrument and acknowledged to me that he/she/they executed the same in his/her their capacity(ies), and that by his/her/their signature(s) on the instrument, the individual(s), or the person upon behalf of which the individual(s) acted, executed the instrument.

_________________________________________________

(signature and office of individual taking acknowledgment)