PLATTSBURGH — Citing a lack of use and concern over parties, City of Plattsburgh Mayor Donald Kasprzak has opted not to renew the lease for a firefighting museum.
A 30-year agreement with the Firefighters Benevolent Association for use of the Horicon Fire Museum on Cornelia Street ended in February and will not be renewed.
CLOSED FOR YEARS
The first floor of the city-owned building is home to a 1931 fire truck and 1934 Dodge ambulance, antique firefighting equipment, records and old photographs.
The mayor said he decided not to renew the lease because, since he became mayor in 2007, the building has never been open to the public. It has, however, been used by firefighters for parties, most notably, an annual Super Bowl party, he said.
During a recent visit to the building, Kasprzak said, he and Police Chief Desmond Racicot found three bags of empty beer cans, a long bar and alcoholic beverages in the refrigerator on the second floor.
Also, there were beer signs, a craps table, pool table and other gambling apparatus.
Kasprzak said he has asked firefighters not to have their Super Bowl parties there the past two years, but his requests were ignored.
He said that, because of liability, the city cannot continue to lease the building if it is going to be used in such a way.
"I am disappointed that I could not renew the lease. However, I have a responsibility to protect the city and our taxpayers from unnecessary liabilities," the mayor said.
"The fire union failed to agree to my repeated requests to discontinue the inappropriate and questionable behavior in the building, which is city-owned and -insured."
TRUCKS TO MUSEUM
The mayor has offered the vehicles to the Champlain Valley Transportation Museum on the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base for display there.
"I am pleased the Champlain Valley Transportation Museum has offered to display the historic fire items," Kasprzak said.
"Let's hope the union agrees to this, as it is very important the department's history is available daily for people to enjoy."
Fire Department Capt. Michael Edwards, who is president of the Benevolent Association, said the museum is separate from the City Fire Department and the firefighters union.
"The city owns the building, and they have the right to not renew," was about all Edwards would say.
He did add that a meeting will be held to discuss the matter.
Firefighters Union President Terry Feazelle said he hopes the issue can be resolved.
"Hopefully, both sides can work it out."
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