Freedom — January 8, 2009 — The [Freedom] Board of Selectmen is hosting an “Informational Forum on the New Municipal Land and Building” on Monday, January 19, at the Town Hall at 7 p.m. The idea for the forum, according [Selectman Donna] Cupka, came out of last month’s Land Committee meeting. Citizens attending that meeting voiced questions and concerns, many of which were outside of the scope of the Land Committee’s charge.
The Land Committee’s charge is straightforward: to find an available and suitable piece of land that would meet the square footage requirements identified by the Municipal Building Committee’s Needs Assessment.
Land Committee members found themselves being asked questions about renovating the existing Town Office building, about expanding the Village Road fire station, about the town’s plans for those two buildings if vacated by town government, about the design and cost of a new building, and so on.
Citizens are encouraged to bring these and any questions to the Informational Forum. Cupka will begin the forum with a synopsis of the issue thus far and then will open the meeting up to public comment. The meeting is being held on the 2nd floor of the Town Hall, allowing for plenty of seating and for the use of the public-address system. The Select Board wants to give everyone the opportunity to engage in a productive conversation before Town Meeting.
The same idea holds true for the Select Board’s Budget Hearing, scheduled for Monday, February 9, at 7:30 p.m. at the Town Hall. The purpose of the Budget Hearing is to give citizens the chance to go over the proposed budget, line-by-line, with the Select Board and to ask questions and give input.
It is the Board’s hope that citizens will make use of these opportunities and will not save all questions and concerns for the floor of Town Meeting.
The selectmen say they have not done a financial analysis of refurbishing the current buildings as an alternative to buying land and reconstructing everything outside the village. They have also said, basically, that there won’t be such an analysis unless the taxpayers force them to do one. You can’t run a business that way, and you certainly shouldn’t spend taxpayer money that way. Taxpayers are entitled to a rigorous financial analysis that shows the pros, cons and costs (financial and otherwise) of each option before being asked to vote on the issue. We should accept no less.
Dan is correct. We should consider combining the police and fire stations on Village Rd. There may be no need to purchase land, develop the site and build new. All the alternatives with their respective costs and time tables should be fully explored. We’re paying enough taxes as it is. We must demand all the information.