Cobble Hill’s shuttered Engine 204 will be turned into a city schoolhouse rather than being reopened as a firehouse, city officials announced Tuesday.
The decision came after months of negotiations between city officials who wanted to sell the former firehouse to a private developer and local elected officials who wanted to see it reopen as a lifesaving facility.
The Bloomberg administration agreed that the Department of Education could use the building for the next 10 years, a compromise that allows for the possibility that the Bravest could someday return to the building — which was closed as a cost-cutting measure in 2004.
The agreement is a step forward for community activists, but a loss for those who argued that the building, at Court and Degraw streets, must reopen the firehouse.
“With more people moving to the area, we need more, not less, firefighters,” Community Board 6 member Celia Cacase testified at a January public hearing on the city’s plan to sell the firehouse.
Nonetheless, many activists and pols were patting themselves on the back for “saving” the building.
“It is crucial that we have adequate space for educational programs, which is why I think the entire community will benefit if Engine 204 is leased to the Department of Education,” said Councilman Bill DeDlasio (D–Park Slope), who only recently was demanding that the building be restored to a firehouse.
DeBlasio’s Council colleague David Yassky (D– Brooklyn Heights) admitted that the agreement was best regarded as a “victory in the context of the current situation.”
“It would have been a real loss for the community if a building that had been serving the neighborhood for so long got turned into [luxury condos],” added Yassky’s spokesman Sam Rockwell. “And that was a real possibility.”
The city could have raised several million dollars from the sale of the property to a private developer, experts said.