Where is the respect?

Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department upset village has yet to approve contracts


An unhappy group of Lawrence-Cedarhurst firefighters attended and then left the Village of Lawrence on Jan. 10 dissatisfied that the board of trustees once again deferred officially approving both the newest fire services contract and the fire house construction and financing agreement.

Lawrence village, the Village of Cedarhurst and the North Lawrence and East Lawrence fire districts contract with the Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department for fire service. Cedarhurst and the two other districts already approved their agreements with the LCFD.

However, Lawrence, which appeared to have approved an agreement a few months ago, has not formally ratified the new contract. Nor has the village signed off on their part of the financing arrangement that will fund the planned $2 million extension of the LCFD firehouse. An extension that is needed due to the size of the new trucks that are mandated by federal law. The firehouse at Washington and Central avenues in Lawrence was built in 1902 and was last renovated in 1971.

“My attorney returned the documents on Friday,” LCFD Chief John McHugh said at the meeting, referring to the date of Jan. 4. “This is an ordeal that has gone on for over two years,” he said, referring to the financing agreement. “We a have reached a saturation point.”

Saying that he empathized with the firefighters, Mayor Martin Oliner said, “I have done everything to move this forward.”

Village attorney A. Thomas Levin said he only received the changes to the financing agreement the week of the meeting and didn’t have the opportunity to review them.

McHugh’s frustration with the board was notable. He said that since Hurricane Sandy struck, his department has responded to more than 200 calls, including two major fires. “There is no other way to feel but we’ve been mistreated. This has to be resolved.”

The board, which was missing Deputy Mayor C. Simon Felder and Trustee Irving Langer, once again pushed the matter to the next meeting, which is expected to be held on Jan. 31.

As he left the meeting, Commissioner Edward Koehler said, “When somebody calls we come.”