Proposed Northborough Fire Station is too costly

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To the Editor:

Can we afford to live in Northborough anymore? This is the question we should ask before we vote on another tax increase via Article 20: Fire Station Design and Land Acquisition, at Northborough’s Town Meeting.

The proposed fire station is state-of-the art on 2+ acres at 61 and 65 West Main Street (Pierce Gas Station). Despite being vacant for years, and possibly contaminated, we’re being asked to pay a preposterous premium for it.

We can all agree: 1. Our firemen deserve our wholehearted appreciation and a safe environment 2. Residents are desperate to see the Pierce Gas Station site revitalized.

But, is a bad investment a smart way to achieve those goals?

This project has the right heart, but it’s packed with a triple whammy to our wallets: 1. Tax increase – to cover $18 million, plus land acquisition for $3.5 million. 2. Annual operating cost increase 3. Loss of potential tax revenue on the land.

What do we know about the impact of this project? Is there a traffic study available to assure us that 2 years of construction and a lifetime of trucks stopping traffic and pulling out on two lanes across from Dunkin Donuts won’t make our downtown traffic worse?

What about impact on other building projects? Where will the funding come from when we want to renovate our police station, town hall, aging schools?

What is the plan for TWO empty fire stations once this new station is complete? Can we combine our police and fire stations? Can we renovate the existing station and add a satellite by Shops Way? If 68 percent of our calls are for EMS, do we need this size?

To compare, the (larger) Town of Westborough took three years of town meetings to settle on a smaller station for $11.2 million.

We DESERVE a Special Town Meeting, dedicated to discussing the magnitude of this project. This shouldn’t be crammed in as a simple article at Annual Town Meeting. We need to PASS over the article. Otherwise, I for one will not be able to afford to live here anymore.  How about you?

 

William C. Jeas

Northborough