Village of Pelham Fire Department to participate in study on combining with Manor, New Rochelle, Larchmont services


The Village of Pelham Board of Trustees on Jan. 24 approved participating in a study on combining the fire department with the services in Larchmont, Pelham Manor and New Rochelle.

The study would follow up on work done in 2009 by Pace University, which looked at bringing together ten paid fire departments into a county unit, Pelham Fire Chief Robert Benkwitt III told the board during its regular meeting. In the original study, it was recommended that the Larchmont, Pelham Manor, Village of Pelham and New Rochelle fire services should merge because they have contiguous borders. The county will cover the costs of the new research, with the goal of seeing if a consolidated fire department would be beneficial to today’s communities, Benkwitt said.

The board appointed new members and reappointed returning members to both the Sustainability Advisory Board and the Village of Pelham Council on the Arts.

Mullen praised the newest member of the Sustainability Advisory Board, Tai Montanarella, who previously served on the Climate Smart Communities Task Force. “She is probably best known for her championship of the healthy yards campaign,” Mullen said. “Did incredible work there helping to educate residents on sustainable practices for yard management and landscaping,”

Heather Eliezer, Thomas White and co-chair Yenna Chan were re-appointed to board.

Paula Cardona and Karen Pursel were named to the arts council.

“Paula and Karen are both public servants in the best possible sense, volunteering for local organizations, working to make our community a better place to live,” said Mullen.

Mullen also honored several village residents with the Mayor’s Commendation for Excellence in Civic Service.

The honorees included Jeff Watkins and Jessica Solomon, outgoing founding members of the arts council. “Within months of its creation, the council launched our first annual Juneteenth celebration, installed a mural downtown, hosted performances in our park and helped organize a new plaque to honor Mickey Schwerner,” Mulled said in a press release.

Watkins was also honored for his leadership on the Steering Committee for Policing and Inclusion, the release said.

Current and former members of the Climate Smart Communities Task Force were honored for their efforts, and outgoing co-chair Gabrielle Sasson was commended for her leadership on the task force and the sustainability board.

“Their collective efforts helped earn the village its bronze-level certification as a Climate Smart Community in September by installing its first of five public EV charging stations in Pelham’s downtown, replacing all street lights with energy-efficient LEDs, benchmarking the energy use of village facilities, launching a food waste-recycling program and partnering with Sustainable Westchester on a host of initiatives, including the EnergySmart Homes and Grid Rewards campaigns, Solarize Pelham and the Community Choice Aggregation Program,” the press release said.

The full list of those commended: Marc Burgess, Ella Burns, Yenna Chan, Kate Doebler, Heather Eliezer, Melissa Eustace, Sam Farrell, Kevin Fleming, Kevin Healy, Richard Heller, Maryanne Joyce, Lucia Lavallee, Nadine LeeSang, Tai Montanarella, Lindsay Preftakes, Anna Riehl, Harry Ross, Gabrielle Sasson, Ben Smyser, Jessica Solomon, Bill Springer, Heather Valade, Jeff Watkins, Tom White and Debbie Winstead.