PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — Opening day at McCoy Stadium was rained out Thursday – but members of the Pawtucket Fire Department said they weren’t planning to go even before the rain started to fall.
Baseball was the main focus Thursday, but near the stadium, the fate of a fire station loomed.
Public safety officials said getting the Columbus Avenue fire station up to par would cost the city more than $2 million in building repairs, so Mayor Don Grebien said he chose to close the building.
“The challenge becomes the cost. If I don’t do this, then I’m going to have to do layoffs and I don’t want to do layoffs and neither should they,” he said.
According to Grebien, closing the station will “absolutely not” impact the safety of residents.
The fire union is not pleased with the decision and decided not to participate in opening day ceremonies in protest.
“We don’t feel like attending that would be in the best interest of our members – as the only organization that would probably benefit from the closing of the station would be the Red Sox if they intend to stay on the footprint of this property,” said union president Will Maher.
According to the union, closing the station will make for longer response times for residents.
Maher said closing the station would mean more parking spaces could be created for McCoy Stadium – but Grebien said that statement is untrue.
“I know they’re trying to spin that. It’s unfortunate again that they’ve chosen to play that but they played their card the way they felt that had to and they have to answer for that,” he said, noting that the department is being “dishonest.”
The PawSox postponed their game until 6:15 p.m. on Friday because of heavy rain. There’s no word on when the fire station will be closed.