Letter to the Editor,
I understand that we need a new fire hall and I believe I am as eager to see one in Creston as the ASC (Advisory Select Committee). The difference between me and the ASC is that I believe we need a new fire hall and fire department operations that the beleaguered taxpayers of Creston can afford. I attended the recent Open House including each of the breakout sessions. I am very disappointed with “conclusions of the ASC so far” The information presented at the Open House reminded me of the Open House sessions presented by the Town of Creston (ToC) prior to the referendum. My comments on each conclusion and breakout session are forwarded to the ASC and ToC but are too long and detailed to repeat here.
I was really impressed by the opening remarks of Ernie Polsom of Firewise at the Open House when he explained the importance of public input, public discussions and the need for acceptance by the public during a community process. I have also had several discussions with the facilitator, Kerry McArthur, and recognizing her communication credentials I am confident that she too understands that the public cannot be excluded! So why has there been no public input allowed at any of the ASC meetings so far? I have written three letters to the ASC (copies to the ToC) with no response from the ASC ( I did receive a response from the ToC accusing me of spreading inaccurate information because I included the Rec centre debt in my concerns ???). I was approved on three occasions by the facilitator of the ASC to speak on affordability with the ASC but each time I was “bumped” from the agenda by the ToC. Of course, the Director of Finance was then placed on the agenda by the ToC. The ToC has controlled the agenda by restricting the ASC from comparing the operating costs of our fire department with other small community volunteer fire departments even though living quarters have a significant impact on the proposed cost of the fire hall. The ToC has eliminated the public from this process so far and shouldn’t have been surprised that the public was not interested in the controlled process of the ToC open house either.
After reading Mr. Cherkas’ resignation letter in the Advance it is now understandable why he resigned from the ASC. He was identifiable on the ASC as a member of the former Affordable Firehall Committee (AFC) and generally voted alone during the three meetings I attended on the financial issues of the ASC conclusions so far. The AFC did make a presentation to the ASC specific to a number of affordable fire hall options but none of that information was even presented at the Open House. I expect it simply was not an option to be party to this fundamentally flawed public process.
I am confident the people of Creston respect and value our fire department and are grateful for their willingness to volunteer and their dedication to protecting our community. We want them to have a safe workplace that meets their operational requirements. However, we can’t meet all the “wants and needs” of the Fire Chief, the ToC and now the ASC for the next 50 to 100 years. The ToC should stop trying to divide the community, accept the results of the last referendum and let’s build a fire hall the Creston taxpayers can afford. I believe that the cost number in the future referendum isn’t as important to the electorate (ie.PUBLIC) as it is to confirm their confidence that the ToC will build a cost-effective fire hall. It certainly isn’t happening so far!
Gary Boyden |Creston