I was pleased to read in the Woodbridge Town News of plans to renovate the old firehouse and convert the building into a community center.
This is to be funded with a $2.85 to $3.35 million bond, that will hopefully be voted on in a referendum in next month’s election. The proposed bond package includes $557,000 to build a new storage shed at the new firehouse, a building for which town taxpayers paid over $7M. In addition, the fire department has already spent several hundred thousand dollars of taxpayer money to construct the foundation for the proposed shed. I appreciate the work and commitment of the volunteer fire fighters to our town (I am a volunteer in the town as well), but spending close to ¾ of a million dollars on a storage shed defies logic and fiscal responsibility.
The plan for this shed is faulted on several levels:
- Has the need been independently assessed? The first step would be to inventory each item in storage and determine its current condition, need, frequency of use and redundancy with other equipment. Sell or donate any items no longer needed or used.
- Discuss with neighboring fire departments in New Haven, Bethany, Orange, Ansonia and Seymour if they would be willing to participate in an equipment sharing program, particularly for expensive and seldom used items. Storage of these items could be shared among participating communities. This would be a win-win for fire departments that are already prepared to support each other in event of large fires or emergencies.
- Assess the way space is being used in the new firehouse. Priority should be given to fire department needs over recreational purposes, for which the basement is currently being used.
- The proposed cost of the new shed is excessive. At least two decent sized single-family homes can be built for the proposed amount. Building this shed with heating and cooling infrastructure is unnecessary. It will add to operating costs for very little gain. If certain equipment is temperature sensitive, that should be identified first and either stored in the firehouse or with partner fire departments.
- The Town Public Works Department recently purchased two 40-foot-long storage sheds for $4500 apiece. If an independent assessment determines that the fire department does in fact need additional space, the affordable option used by Public Works should be used. These units could be placed on the foundation already constructed.
If the bond referendum includes money for the proposed shed, please vote NO.
Thank you very much,
Andrew Danzig, PE