Today’s news:

Keep Bayside’s Engine 306 open

In an effort to close its current budget gap, the Bloomberg administration announced that it was planning to close the FDNY’s Engine 306 in Bayside. This firehouse serves the Bayside and Bay Terrace areas and is vital to the safety of our communities.

In addition, the safety repercussions of closing Engine 306 go beyond Bayside and Bay Terrace. If Engine 306 is closed, emergency responders will have to be called in from other areas. This will take assets away from areas such as Flushing, Whitestone, Douglaston and Little Neck and put those areas at additional risk as well. When a fire emergency occurs, every minute counts. Closing Engine 306 will put property and lives in northeast Queens at undue risk.

I applaud our local elected officials, as they have aggressively fought against the closing of Engine 306. State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) and City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) have worked together in a bipartisan manner to fight this travesty. They recognize that our safety is of the utmost importance and they have moved quickly to stop this closure.

The fact that the Bloomberg administration is proposing to close a budget gap by putting the property and lives of northeast Queens residents at risk is one example of the misguided ideology of the administration. While I understand the city, state and federal governments are each in a financial crisis, it seems that each time the city faces such a crisis, the first places the mayor seeks to cut are our schools and emergency services. Those areas should always be the last places to cut.

In addition, on a national level, our tax dollars continue to build schools, police stations and firehouses in Iraq and Afghanistan while we are closing schools and firehouses here in New York City. It is time our mayor and federal government get their priorities straight and ensure that our communities have good schools and our citizens can go to bed at night knowing they are safe and, in the event of an emergency, an emergency responder is only moments away.

Steven Behar

Bayside

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