Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Feeling Disrespected in Leonia

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Feeling Disrespected in Leonia

Article excerpt

LEONIA -- With borough officials professing a renewed commitment to replacing the town's cramped, outdated Police Department building, firefighters are saying, What about us?

Firefighters share with the Police Department a building that officials say has outlived its usefulness and must be replaced with larger digs that can accommodate the police force's 17 officers. Last month, the Borough Council approved a request for bids for an architectural study of the space requirements needed for a new police station, which would be built on or near the site of the former Volunteer Ambulance Corps building.

Councilman Greg Makroulakis, the police commissioner, said he hopes to have funding in place and plans approved for a new station within 11 months.

Former Fire Chief John Dunn doesn't question the need for a new police station. But he said, "Our issue is this is all being talked about and there's no mention of the firehouse. ... We feel disrespected."

Firefighters say they are experiencing many of the same problems as police officers, including a lack of space and a cockroach infestation. Firetrucks are parked bumper to bumper, they say, and there is little room to maneuver between the trucks and firefighters' lockers, creating a potentially hazardous situation. The roof leaks, firefighter say, and when they start the trucks up, the station fills with diesel fumes.

The firehouse will "probably be addressed" eventually, said council President Darryl Whitter, but right now the borough needs to focus on the police station, which he said is in greater need of being replaced.

Whitter, the borough's fire commissioner, said police have long complained about conditions in the station, including inadequate locker facilities for female officers. Given the town's budget constraints, he said, "we feel we have to address things according to need. …

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