Riverfront Homeowners Decry FDNY Fireboat Moored in Sleepy Hollow

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by Rick Pezzullo – 

FDNY Fireboat
FDNY Fireboat John D. McKean that was used in rescue efforts following 9/11 and Miracle on the Hudson.
—Photo by Alexa Brandenberg

A fireboat that was utilized in rescue efforts following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in Manhattan and the “Miracle on the Hudson” emergency airplane landing on January 15, 2009 suddenly appeared on Thanksgiving weekend outside the windows of riverfront homeowners in Sleepy Hollow. And, it has created waves.

A group of residents from River Street expressed their displeasure with the “gigantic” water craft to the Board of Trustees in late November, complaining they should have received some advanced notice that the retired FDNY fireboat, called the John D. McKean, would be moored at the end of a pier, blocking their scenic views.

“I’m shocked by it,” said Paul Viboch, a 12-year resident. “I didn’t expect it to be in my living room. I didn’t expect to be eye to eye with this towering structure.”

“I woke up and saw a ship. This doesn’t belong here,” said Michael Savitsky, a resident since August 2016. “We pay a lot of taxes. We don’t want to be looking at that.”

Residents further maintained the 129 feet long, nearly 50 feet high fireboat did not fit with the residential/park-like environment of Horan’s Landing and the RiverWalk, but others have disagreed.

At a Board of Trustees meeting in December, Sleepy Hollow Volunteer Fire Chief John Korzelius and firefighter Bill Ryan, both of whom helped out at Ground Zero after September 11, said the fireboat had historical significance and would be a great asset to the village.

“The village has an opportunity to do something good here,” Ryan said.

“For this fire department, that fireboat has special meaning to us,” Korzelius said. “I don’t think it’s a rust bucket. I don’t think it’s an eyesore. I don’t see a downside to this. I see it as the beginning of the turnaround of the riverfront. This village needs to grow. We need something to bring people here.”

One of the owners of the fireboat, Edward Taylor, who purchased it at an auction in March 2016 with Michael Kaphan, told trustees it would not be permanently moored in Sleepy Hollow. He said the fire boat would set sail for educational and social trips.

“We can move under our own power,” said Taylor, who noted the boat might be added to the historical registry. “We’re not commercial. It’s for the enjoyment of the people on the river.”

Village Administrator Anthony Giaccio emphasized that, while the village has received some complaints about the vessel, it has also gotten many favorable comments from residents.

“It’s an unusual situation,” he said. “A lot of people like the idea of having a 9/11, “Miracle on the Hudson” boat in the village as an amenity to the RiverWalk.”

Giaccio explained the village has no control over the river, but the pier where the boat is docked is under Sleepy Hollow’s authority as part of the site plan that was approved for River House. As a result, the village is reviewing if any violations occurred and what steps need to be taken to correct them.

“It’s (the fireboat) been there and we’re trying to iron out the details,” said Giaccio, who noted village officials have been talking to the fireboat owners about moving the vessel so it’s more parallel to the pier and “less of a visual” to residents.

“This is really not an issue of the boat itself,” said Deputy Mayor Glenn Rosenbloom. ”It’s an issue of where the boat is placed.”

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