Village Board bidding bon voyage to Fire Fighter museum

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Suffolk County officials have asked the fireboat Fire Fighter museum Greenport.
KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Village officials voted Monday to prevent fireboat Fire Fighter museum from docking in Greenport Village.

The Greenport Village Board is officially looking to bid farewell to the controversial Fire Fighter fireboat museum.

Board members voted unanimously Monday night on a resolution that terminates licensing for the berthing of Fire Fighter at any village-controlled dock, effective Feb. 28.

The move comes nearly a year to the day after the board first approved a contract welcoming Fire Fighter to the Mitchell Park Marina.

No members of the public commented on the vote Monday evening.

When Fire Fighter arrived in Greenport last February, it was expected to become a permanent fixture among other local maritime attractions, but it’s since become a “headache” and a “liability,” village and county officials have said.

The beginning of the village’s change of heart dates back to June, when the contract to dock the vessel at Mitchell Park expired and the board voted to move the historic boat to the railroad dock. At that time, a group of local fishermen and other village residents complained to village officials that the railroad dock is intended exclusively for commercial fishing purposes and therefore should not host Fire Fighter.

While the Village of Greenport leases the railroad dock from the county for a token fee of $1 per year, the county has the right to refuse any sublease agreement the village enters into regarding the dock.

County officials have said they never signed off on the village’s decision to move the boat.

In October, the Village of Greenport received a letter from the county attorney’s office stating that the decommissioned 134-foot fireboat would need to vacate the railroad dock within three weeks, or the county would take further action. That deadline came and went without any change in the boat’s berthing location. The county later moved the deadline to Jan. 31 to give the historic boat more time to relocate, County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said in a phone interview last week.

Meanwhile, Charlie Ritchie, president of the museum that owns Fire Fighter, said the practical aspect of relocating such a large ship isn’t as easy as it might sound.

“We are kind of in a holding pattern,” Mr. Ritchie said, noting that moving Fire Fighter would be very expensive for the nonprofit, which has been holding out hope of finding it a permanent home.

“Right now we’re just waiting and trying to look for a new place,” he said. “Sag Harbor said they would take us temporally, but that’s not what we want.”

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with Carrie Miller