(LFC Comments: This article was written by the members of the Affordable Concord Taxes group. We hope that the Concord Township officials have not adopted the philosophy of “never letting a good crisis go to waste”.
We applaud the Concord Township officials for making public meetings available to all residents on their website. In addition, Mr. Andy Rose, Administrator, has always provided timely responses to all of our questions.)
To All Concord Township Residents:
The coronavirus outbreak and subsequent economic crisis of the past few months has resulted in everyone making adjustments to their normal lifestyles. We certainly must applaud our first responders for their readiness to meet our needs in Concord Township.
In a recent article in the News Herald, it appeared that our officials were rationalizing the construction of the same huge fire stations to accommodate the needs of firefighters given this pandemic. In addition, the article stated that plans with the architect were in process with no mention of the promise citizens were given to provide input into the fire station construction process, prior to any architectural plans. In viewing the recent Trustee meeting on May 6th, our members sought further clarification regarding the following points:
- There is agreement that the current fire stations are out of date and need to be replaced. However, voters turned down the $10 million bond issue for the construction of a 24,000 sq. ft. station. Given the current size of Fire Station No. 1 of 6,000 sq. ft., and the number of calls (80% EMS), building a new station must be financially feasible, especially given our current economic crisis.
- An idea floated by some Concord officials at the end of February was to have the Township fund a 23,000 sq. ft. station, and then ask the voters to approve a tax for the Prouty Rd. station (which was originally 12,500 sq. ft., costing $5 million.) Currently, our Trustees stated they are looking at options to present in a public forum, allowing citizen input prior to new architectural plans being developed. In a follow-up conversation with Mr. McIntosh, we were told the total budget of these two projects will be provided.
- The trustees have completed a geological study across the street from Fire Station No. 1 on Rt. 608, the area of the soccer field. The engineers concluded it is a buildable site. However, they further noted that no money would be saved by building on this site, versus the originally proposed site near the existing fire station, due to foundational requirements resulting from soil conditions.
The Trustees find themselves at a critical juncture in making decisions regarding which station to build first, how much they can afford with current Township revenue and assuring residents that the total budget for construction, furnishing, operating and maintenance of both stations won’t cause an additional tax levy to appear on the ballot.
Our officials may or may not trim this ambitious project down to a size that many other comparable communities have built to successfully support their citizens, even in an economic crisis. Clearly, the pandemic does not justify oversized and/or overpriced fire stations. We remain hopeful that the Trustees will address these outstanding concerns and respond in a fiscally responsible manner. (emphasis added by LFC)
Needless to say, we fully intend to closely monitor future trustee meetings to keep you informed about the opportunity to view options presented and provide important public input into this process. We hope you will also view Concord’s public meetings, which you can access via its website.
With you in making a difference,
Affordable Concord Taxes