Friday, July 16, 2010

The Fortunes of the Firemen's Home

Back in 2003, when FASNY announced their plans for expansion at the Firemen's Home, there seemed to be no end to their vision or their resources. A new 92-bed nursing home was only the first phase. Next would be an assisted living facility to be constructed along Harry Howard Avenue just south of the nursing home. Then a community of "patio homes" constructed farther west and north on the property. FASNY was getting ready to enter the alluringly lucrative "senior living" industry.

More than $25 million was spent on the new Firemen's Home building. At the lavish opening ceremony in June 2007, speakers rhapsodized about the luxury of the building, comparing it to a five-star hotel. No expense, it would seem, had been spared.

Less than two years after the facility opened, rumors began circulating that FASNY was experiencing financial woes. In March 2009, ccSCOOP reported that FASNY had suffered losses in the Wall Street crisis, but FASNY spokesman Thomas Leonard explicitly denied that the losses were the result of investments made with Bernard Madoff. Craig Wittman, administrator for the Firemen's Home, made assurances that no cutbacks or layoffs were planned.

However, just two weeks ago, at the end of June 2010, in a letter sent to the families of Firemen's Home residents, Thomas J. Cuff, Jr., president of the FASNY Board of Directors, and John B. Montrose, president of the Firemen's Home Board of Trustees, announced that the Fireman's Home will "discontinue use of 23 of its 92 member beds through attrition." In other words, the Firemen's Home will not be accepting new members until the number of residents has been reduced by one quarter. The letter also stated that: "While this decision will ultimately result in a smaller workforce, given that this process will be a gradual one, it is our hope that any personnel actions anticipated in workforce reduction will be accomplished through attrition."

Apropos of nothing except that the topic is the Firemen's Home, here's a picture of the original Firemen's Home. Designed by Michael J. O'Connor and built in 1893, the building faced west and would have had an enviable view of the Hudson. This building was demolished in 1965, reportedly because it "had become a fire hazard due to its wood construction.” Photographic evidence and a contemporary description indicate that the building was brick with granite trim.

3 comments:

  1. This was a really well done and much needed piece of reporting. What is too bad, is the clearly utter lack of interest in THIS particular story by Gossips' readers, as evidenced by the zero comments. For those men and women who have risked death and injury for no compensation (Aside from Dan Region's Pride is Our Pay nod) for decades, to have the rung pulled out from under them - where is the outcry from readers of this site? Might it be because there are no local volunteer firefighters who read this blog? Or might it be that those who read this blog care more about the siding on the church than about the men and women who will come to their houses regardless of weather, regardless of danger, to rescue them, their children, their pets and their properties? For readers who are so quick to suggest,draft and organize petitions to save buildings, where's the energy and the passion to help save the dignity of deserving elderly firefighters?

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  2. I think that the readers of this blog made their feelings about the outrageous nature of the firemen's home situation very clear when the foolhardy project was first proposed and when it was, against a lot of opposition, completed.

    There may be some polite restraint from saying: "Told you so."

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  3. The 'big box' architectural replacement of the Firemans Home and the Hudson Firehouses speaks volumns to those interested and concerned over historic and architectural preservation in Hudson.

    The centuries of history of the 'fireman' made famous in Hudson has been erased in just a few years. Out of sight, out of mind.

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