By TESA GLASS email@example.com
---- — MT. VERNON — The firefighter museum at Times Square Mall will be closing after mall officials have a new tenant for the space.
“We want to thank the mall for everything they’ve done for us,” said Doug Boczek of the Mt. Vernon Professional Firefighters Local 738. “They are a business, and they can’t afford to give away spaces that can be used by paying customers.”
The agreement between the local firefighters union and the mall was the union could use the space rent free unless a permanent tenant was found for the area. At the time, the firefighters were looking for a place to display and house the 1939 Diamond T fire engine, which was purchased new by the city. The engine was up for sale by the city, a move that was put on hold after the union spearheaded a petition drive to save the truck. City leaders agreed to stop the sale to give the union time to implement a plan to refurbish the vehicle and place it on public display.
“The truck still belongs to the city,” Boczek said. “At this point, we’re back to implementing the plan we started two years ago.”
The truck and museum, which contains antique items pertaining to local firefighting, opened March 18, 2011, with donations and loan of memorabilia. The 1939 Diamon T is the centerpiece of the collection.
“The truck can’t be stored on city property, that’s part of the agreement,” Boczek said. “Before we moved into the mall, it was stored at Rick’s Towing for almost a year. We need to find a place to store all the items until we can find another place to put the museum and everything back on display.”
Boczek said a “lot of items” have been accumulated since the museum opening.
“We just found out the space is being rented (Wednesday),” Boczek said. “We are now working to find someplace else for the museum. The mall was a perfect place, because there was a lot of foot traffic and security would open the doors and close the doors for us. There is a lot there that people just don’t see all the time. It’s still great to be at the mall and hear some kid go by and yell, ‘look, a firetruck!’ That’s the kind of fun and excitement we want for the museum.”
Boczek said area firefighters will be working with local civic organizations and welcome ideas and donations from the public.
“We’re looking for ideas right now, and help,” Boczek said. Residents can find out more by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The firefighters will need to be out of the space at the mall by Sept. 23.