To the Editor:
I join a number of my fellow residents of Canton in urging you to consider the recent, thoughtful proposal brought forth by the Board of Selectmen which calls for the rebuilding the Town Garage at its current site.
In looking through the proposal, you will see that the costs and complexity of the project have been reduced by more than 20% from previous proposals.
In my opinion, nice but noncritical components have been eliminated. And, there is no cost associated with procuring another site.
Nearly everybody in town realizes that the town garage needs to be replaced. It is outdated and poses safety and working condition issues for our municipal workers. And, it does not serve the taxpayers of Canton properly by exposing very expensive equipment to the elements thereby shortening their useful life.
Unfortunately, what is dividing the town is the location of the garage.
We have had two expensive referendums which were very divisive about locating the garage in a different location in town. Voters resoundingly rejected both proposals.
I would submit that voters rejected the two referendums for two principal reasons. First, some people simply didn’t want it in their backyard. Second, some thought that the costs were unnecessarily high. Whatever the reasons people had, the debate was contentious and divisive.
One of the advantages of the current proposal is that we can mitigate the contentiousness because the location of the new garage would be rebuilt at the same site that it is currently on.
And doing this helps reduce the costs because there is no acquisition of another site and the utilities have already been drawn into the site.
The central controversy seems to be that the current garage, as well as the garage to be rebuilt, are both on the Farmington River. As many of you know the current site is next to the sewer plant and directly across from the firehouse. Very little else can be developed on this land.
The Board of Selectmen have thoughtfully addressed the issue of pollution of the river which, of course, no one wants. Fuel tanks will be moved further away from the river and runoff will be shielded. Down the road, enhanced public access to the river can be put in place. Also, the rebuilt garage, salt shed and fuel depot will be above the 100-year floodplain. The site has not flooded since 1955 and that was before extensive dam control measures were put in place upriver.
Over the years, the site of the garage and the other municipal facilities nearby has become a central location for town departments. The reality is these facilities ARE there and moving them would be costlier and more divisive than leaving them where they are.
I would strongly urge my fellow residents to consider this and I thank them for their consideration.