By Stephen J. Kotz
Members of the Sag Harbor Fire Department see the light at the end of the tunnel in their quest to create a home where they can store and work on the department’s collection of antique fire trucks—as well as show them off to the public from time to time.
Last month, the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board signed off on the application of Sag Harbor Antique Fire Trucks, Inc., which has been spun off from the fire department to run the project, for site-plan approval. The nonprofit group wants to construct a nearly 4,000-square foot building on 2.5 acres it owns on the west side of the Bridgehampton Turnpike near Hildreth Street.
It will unveil the plans for a barn-like structure with three bays designed by architect Robert Lenahan before the Sag Harbor Village Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review this Thursday, June 12, at 5 p.m.
Assuming the board signs off on the plans, Ed Deyermond, a village trustee, who is also the vice president of the nonprofit, said the department will seek some seed money from the fire department, pursue a building loan from a local bank, and start fundraising in earnest.
“This is our heritage. This is where we started from,” said Pete Garypie, the president of the organization, of the desire to house the department’s four antique fire trucks in a centralized location, where they can be stored in a climate-controlled environment, and where volunteers can keep them up and running.
The department owns four antique trucks. The only one that is currently operational is a 1938 Maxim pumper that is now stored at a private site on Clay Pit Road.
The village bought the pumper new, during the depths of the Depression, Mr. Deyermond said, and it arrived in town just in time for the 1938 hurricane, after which it was pressed into service to pump drinking water for village residents.
The department also owns a 1943 Chevrolet truck that was originally used at Camp Upton, which is stored in a private garage in Sagaponack, and two others, a 1951 Mack pumper and a 1929 Dodge pumper that are both “cocooned in shrink wrap” at a private garage in North Haven, according to Bob Mitchell, the secretary and treasurer of Sag Harbor Antique Fire Trucks.
Fire departments typically have antique trucks, which are used for parades and other special events, including funerals.
Although it has been named the Sag Harbor Antique Fire Truck Museum, the facility will not be open to the public except for special open houses, group members said, because, among other things it would not be feasible to staff it on a regular basis.
“This all started under the presidency of Chris Kohnken,” said Mr. Deyermond of the effort to safeguard the department’s antique apparatus. After Mr. Kohnken stepped down, other members stepped up, to keep the project alive.
“It’s been a long haul, basically because of the wetlands,” said Mr. Deyermond, noting that organization had to get approval from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the Harbor Committee, the ZBA and the planning board.