Firehouse merits more thought
I honestly believe the vast majority of the residents of Castleton want our volunteer firefighters to have what they need to respond safely and efficiently to the emergencies of our community. I also believe there is wide appreciation for the services they provide so unselfishly.
That being said, I am bewildered and offended by both the timing and the proposal itself for the purchase of land and the construction of a new town fire hall on Route 30.
First, the need for a new facility was not expressed to the taxpayers until the construction of a new town hall was proposed. At that time, it seemed advantageous by some community members to combine both construction proposals in an effort to “sell” the idea to voters in a more convincing fashion. Dealing with the bond vote for a new fire hall now will further delay progress on determining the future of the town offices, which should be this town’s top priority.
Once this problem has been satisfactorily addressed, we can focus our energies more effectively upon improved housing for the town fire department. It is imperative that we unburden ourselves financially from the temporary town office situation as soon as possible. To do anything else is not fiscally responsible.
Secondly, considering that three votes have defeated the new construction of town offices, can we not be presented with a more financially conservative approach to solving our fire department housing problem? The current proposal will not draw us together as previously suggested at a recent Select Board meeting. Rather, it has already polarized and divided the citizens of Castleton further.
Lastly, the blitz is on again to buy and build now. Some citizens have made the point that after amortizing over a 20-year period, a $1.5 million bond realistically results in a total cost to taxpayers of $2 million. For such a huge expenditure, Castleton taxpayers deserve the opportunity to consider carefully researched alternatives. Other possibilities do exist, as have been suggested by some of our far-sighted community members. Let us not be rushed into such an enormous undertaking without asking the important questions and investigating the financially reasonable choices which exist.
I ask the Castleton community to vote down this bond proposal in order to allow for a thoughtful information-gathering process that will meet both the needs of our firefighters and the monetary concerns of our community as a whole.
ROBERT N. COOK