Thanks, in great part, to state funding, the City of Poughkeepsie was able to purchase two new fire trucks and 10 police cars in the past year or so. But officials want more. As WAMC’s Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Allison Dunne reports, the mayor and fire chief have a wish list.
The new fire and police vehicles were on display during a recent dedication ceremony in honor of late New York state Assemblyman Frank Skartados, who had secured the funding for the new fire apparatus and police vehicles. Poughkeepsie Fire Chief Mark Johnson says more replacement apparatus is needed.
“I mean, our next newest piece of apparatus is a 2007. So that, right now, is 11 years old. So on replacement, we’re looking at every 15 years for a pumper. Every 18-to-20 years on a ladder truck,” says Johnson. “So we’re going to be looking for, at least a new engine very soon.”
He says the department will need that new fire engine in the next three years, and likely would require state or federal assistance. Beyond that, Johnson says he hopes the city could come up with the funding on its own.
“And we’re hoping with the mayor’s guidance and the economy starting to grow here, we’ve got a lot of building. We have 600 housing units either in process or have been approved for building in the city over the next year, year-and-a-half,” Johnson says. “So business is coming back. People are coming back, so the infrastructure will be bigger, we’ll have more of a tax base where we don’t have to go out and basically beg or rely on grant money to do our jobs.”
Republican Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison says there are other needs… in law enforcement.
“We still certainly have needs for additional police vehicles because we’ve got, say, 16-plus marked cars,” Rolison says. “We’ve got an additional fleet of unmarked vehicles which have high mileage. These are the vehicles that are driven by our detective units and other supervisors and different units within the PD.”
And, says Rolison, the city could use money in another area.
“A major area of concern for us with equipment is the Department of Public Works. We were able to get some new vehicles last year but we do have a need for at least one new plow/sander,” says Rolison. “Our leaf equipment is many years old that we use that’s out right now, sucking up leaves all over the city so that, and they get banged up easily, as you can imagine, the Department of Public Works. So that’s definitely an area that we’re going to be concentrating on in the next year or so.”
Meantime, city officials have new representation in the state Assembly come January. Democratic Newburgh City Councilmember Jonathan Jacobson won election to succeed Skartados in the 104th District. Skartados died in April from pancreatic cancer. Jacobson has already begun introducing himself to Poughkeepsie city officials and imagines he’ll be called upon to help with funding, including for the fire and police departments.
“I understand the needs. The needs here are similar in Newburgh. We’re always worried about having enough police and fire, and what the municipalities can afford without taxing more,” says Jacobson. “So the needs of all our municipalities in the district are similar.”
Meantime, Skartados had helped to secure $1 million for the new fire trucks that cost around $1.4 million. The city council agreed to borrow most of the remainder knowing that the bulk would come from the state. Rolison says Skartados also had a hand in helping to fund the replacement of half of the city’s marked police cars.