Fire merger hits minor snag


By Joe Moskowitz
The attempt by the Margaretville and Middletown-Hardenburgh fire districts to merge has run into an unexpected roadblock in the form of the State of New York. John Fairbairn III, who is the attorney for both the Town of Middletown and the Village of Margaretville, says New York State law specifically prohibits such a merger.
For years, the village, which no longer owns fire equipment, has contracted for fire protection with the Middletown-Hardenburgh Fire District, which houses its equipment in the village. Rather than go through annual contract negotiation and to give Margaretville residents the potential for representation on the Board of Fire Commissioners, the village and the fire district have been trying to consolidate.
All of the municipalities that would be affected, the towns of Middletown, Hardenburgh, Roxbury, and the Village of Margaretville, have approved the merger, but not the state. At least not yet.
Fairbairn told the Middletown Town Board that while it won’t take an act of Congress to get it done, it comes close.
Fairbairn is drafting a bill, which State Senator James Seward and Assemblyman Pete Lopez will introduce in their respective houses of the state legislature. If all goes well, state lawmakers will approve the consolidation.
Fairbairn says other fire districts in the state have merged so there is a template, which he will follow. The state legislature returns to Albany in January.