After reading the Gardiner Gazette and the New Paltz Times I feel compelled to respond to inaccurate facts being expressed about the Gardiner Fire Department. The fire department is a non-profit corporation whose volunteer members serve the citizens of the Gardiner Fire District. Operating funds are obtained through private solicitations, donations and assorted fundraisers which allows the volunteers to maintain their two fire houses in the fire district.
Fire departments are a vital part of each community. The volunteer firefighters who seek membership are anxious to serve and help their neighbors and are called upon not only to save your life or property but also to help in many other unusual ways. They give their personal time attending classes, drills, etc., to insure they will be prepared when the call comes in the middle of the night or when their family is about to sit down to a holiday dinner. Many of us take for granted the services provided by volunteers in our communities. Tax dollars would be extremely higher if all the services provided by the volunteers were performed by paid personnel. We should be thankful for these people who live in our community and also pay property taxes. They never say NO when your emergency arises.
The Gardiner Fire District is a political subdivsion having taxing authority. Each year an annual BUDGET is prepared according to Town Law and a legal notice is published in the New Paltz Times and on the Town website inviting the public to review the budget before the PUBLIC HEARING takes place. This public hearing is always on the third Tuesday in October and all persons are encouraged to attend and comments are always invited. The budget is prepared by the five member elected Board of Fire Commissioners, always considering the consequences to the taxpayers while following mandates required by law. The district supplies all the vehicles, training, proper safety gear and other numerous supplies for the volunteers of the fire department. The Budget Hearing will be held on October 19, 2010 at 7 pm at the Gardiner Fire House. Usually the public ignores this public hearing and then complains they have no say as to the budget expenditures.
The old firehouse property was deeded to the fire department in the early 1900’s and was used to house a piece of firefighting apparatus purchased by the community. This 1908 pumper was recently discovered in the mud behind Majestic’s store and is being restored by the fire department members.
When more modern equipment and space was needed, the Majestic and Burke families donated land for two firehouses and the old building was deeded to the town. The members and many town residents would like the old building returned to the fire district for use as a town/fire museum for the many artifacts that our long time residents now have in their homes. The fire department was a vital organization in the ‘old days’ as it is today. Past history is as important as our future. I have traveled extensively and often visit small museums in historic towns and they are operated by volunteers. Yes, they do seek donations and usually those of us who visit are very generous.