February 4, 2023
By Rick Pezzullo–
It appears a fireboat that was part of two historic events in New York City will not be coming to Tarrytown–at least any time soon.
At a Jan. 25 work session, the Tarrytown Board of Trustees instructed Village Administrator Richard Slingerland to write a letter to the State Historic Review Board objecting to a non-profit group’s efforts to designate the village as the home port for the vessel.
Trustees maintained there are too many unanswered questions surrounding the fireboat being stationed in the village’s harbor, including the liability to the village should anything happen to it while its docked on village property.
“It’s not clear to me where this boat is going,” Trustee Robert Hoyt remarked. “I want to know exactly where they want to dock.”
The fireboat, which was part of rescue efforts during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and the Jan. 15, 2009 “Miracle on the Hudson” airplane landing, is currently docked at a boat yard in Stony Point in Rockland County.
Leaders of the McKean Fireboat Preservation Project prefer to have the fireboat in Tarrytown since most of the volunteers who work on the boat live in Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow or Elmsford. Vice President David Rocco said Joe Cotter, President and CEO of National Resources, developer of Hudson Harbor in Tarrytown, was fully behind having the fireboat dock in the Tarrytown Marina.
In 2018, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ordered Cotter to stop construction of a pier that was intended as a home for the fireboat in Sleepy Hollow’s Horan’s Landing inlet. They said Cotter had violated previously approved specifications. (see: https://thehudsonindependent.com/developer-under-orders-to-remove-pier-on-sleepy-hollow-riverfront/). Cotter has since advocated docking the boat in the Tarrytown Marina, which he owns and where he is involved with plans to build a four-story, 103-room “boatel.”
Despite the Board of Trustees’ decision on Jan. 25, Rocco said he doesn’t blame the board for the stance it has taken. “I don’t fault the village for playing it cautious,” Rocco said. “It would have been nice if they would have given their blessing, but it’s not a fatal blow. At least we reached out. It is what it is.”
On Dec. 8, the State Historic Review Board voted to approve State Historic Preservation status to the fireboat, which was first launched in 1954, without hearing input from Tarrytown officials, but the board agreed not to forward an application to the National Historic Preservation Review for 60 days to allow village trustees to discuss the matter.
Two community information sessions were held by the nonprofit group Jan. 10 at the Tarrytown Senior Center where the plan received mixed reactions.
More than 30 organizations and elected officials have supported the effort, including the Hudson River Valley Greenway. However, village trustees, among others, want to know much more about overall plans for the Marina. If Tarrytown ultimately becomes a dead end for the fireboat, Rocco said the group is looking at other options, with Yonkers being a possible destination.
In 2010, the fireboat was retired from the New York City Fire Department. In 2016, it was purchased at an auction for $56,000. Since then, more than $500,000 has been spent for its upkeep and 25,000 hours have been donated by volunteers.