by Bill Demarest
With the heated election for a Nyack Fire District commissioner’s seat over, Nyack Fire Chief James Weck is urging all the volunteers involved in the Nyack Fire Department to come together to build upon the progress that has been made since a fire district was created to handle the fire department’s finances.
“A lot has been accomplished in the last 15 years to modernize equipment and facilities, but there is still a lot of work that remains,” said Weck. “We all have to work to ensure the progress made these past 15 years continues, to keep the fire department in the best position to do our job of protecting the public. They expect and deserve nothing less.”
Weck congratulated Peter Wortendyke on his election to the five-member board of fire commissioners on Dec. 10. The fire district’s commission oversees the financial operations related to the Nyack Fire Department, while Weck and other line officers oversee the day-to-day operations and firefighting efforts of the fire department.
In the fire district election, more than 750 voters turned out at two polling places. They approved three financial proposals and decided the race for one fire commissioner seat between incumbent Fire District Chairman Keith Taylor and challenger Wortendyke.
Wortendyke came out the winner, 440 to 319, after several weeks of campaigning for the volunteer position.
Taylor has been on the board of commissioners for 15 years. An active volunteer firefighter, Taylor is also president of the Nyack Fire Patrol, one of the Nyack Fire Department’s eight companies, located in the Central Station on Park Street.
“Congratulations to our newly elected Fire Commissioner Peter Wortendyke. … Although I did support Keith Taylor in the election, I am confident that Pete’s more than capable and up to the work that needs to be done,” Weck said. “Also, a big thanks to Keith Taylor who has served the Nyack Fire District for the last 15 years. Keith is one of the hardest working and dedicated men I have ever met, both in his business (Hannemann Funeral Home in Nyack) and his work for the Nyack Fire Department and as a district commissioner.”
Weck also extended thanks to the voters of the fire district who overwhelmingly approved a plan to finance repairs to the historic Upper Nyack firehouse though a $400,000 bond issue. The aging firehouse on North Broadway, home to Empire Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1, has serious structure problems that need attention to make the building safe and to ensure its future, Weck said.
The proposal approved by the voters in a two-to-one margin would let the Nyack Fire District pay for the repairs without dipping into its district’s existing repair fund, which is used to maintain buildings and equipment throughout the fire district and the eight companies that make up the Nyack Fire Department.
The fire district commissioners approved the plan for the Upper Nyack firehouse after obtaining a 50-year lease on the building from its owner, the Village of Upper Nyack.
Voters also approved a plan to refinance the debt on the fire department’s newest building, the Central Station on Park Street. A $3 million bond issue would be used to pay off the existing variable-rate mortgage on the property, with the district expected to save money by obtaining lower-cost financing through the bond issue. The proposal also would take ownership of the property from the local development corporation that was created to build the firehouse and officially give it to the Nyack Fire District.
A third proposal approved by voters was an extension of a state-endorsed program that encourages New Yorkers to join volunteer fire departments. The program provides a small pension for volunteers who meet its requirements through their service.
“Thanks to everyone who voted … especially to everyone who voted for the bond to repair Empire’s firehouse,” Weck said. “It is unfortunate the building has fallen into the state of disrepair it is currently in and should not have happened. Hopefully now in short order repairs can be made to bring the building back up to code so it can continue to house the fire company and truck to protect the village of Upper Nyack and the rest of the district. Empire’s fire truck has a small metal plate affixed to the front bumper with one word on it, Pride. With yesterday’s vote the building can now be repaired and the word Pride can be returned to the symbol of Goosetown.”
With Wortendyke replacing Taylor on the board of fire commissioners, the five members will have to select a new chairman. During his term as chairman, Taylor developed the plan to repair the Upper Nyack firehouse that was approved by voters. After the election, Nyack volunteer firefighters said they hope the reconstituted board of fire commissioners follows through with the firehouse repair plan, as well as the effort to refinance the Central Station as a cost-savings measure.
Firefighters said the results of the voting on the financial propositions show that the public is supportive of the efforts of the volunteer department.
Just a day after the election, Weck said that some discussions had already taken place looking into what needs to be done at the Upper Nyack firehouse.
Bill Demarest is a journalist with extensive experience in reporting the news. Reach him at