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Letter to the Editor: We need a 21st Century Facility

November 3, 2016 Government, Opinion, Referendum No Comments

To the Editor,

I will be voting “No” on the Town of Canton Referendum question to build a new town garage at the current location on the Farmington River. I believe that it is fiscally prudent to build a new facility that meets the needs of the town for decades to come. I voted “Yes” in the last two referenda, so I never had an issue with either the price or the size of those proposals. We need a 21st century facility, and the PMBC worked long and hard to come up with the best options. The current DPW employees deserve a modern facility and so do future employees.

Many experts have already articulated numerous reasons why the current location is by far the worst location for a new garage, so I won’t repeat them. I’d like to focus on the two most obvious reasons: 1) the site is located right along the river in a flood plain; 2) climate change is real and for years the scientific community has predicted more extreme weather patterns, including droughts and historically severe rain events.

A recent article published in The Hartford Courant, headlined, “Report: The Hartford, Travelers Taking Climate Change Seriously,” outlines that “casualty insurers and reinsurers are taking climate change most seriously. Those insurers have the most exposure to climate risks, the report said,” the story says. They have acknowledged climate change and adjusted their underwriting practices accordingly.

A critical assumption of the current proposal is that raising the site by one foot (an expensive endeavor needed only on this site) will be enough to protect the multi-million-dollar taxpayer investment from future flooding. Given that the overwhelming objective scientific evidence predicts more extreme weather events, it is fiscally irresponsible to build a new facility so close to the river. The argument that “I haven’t seen it in my lifetime” falls flat in the face of the evidence, which clearly shows that the near future will be different. One foot is enough until it is not enough. The data are screaming that it’s not.

I admit that my argument rests on two assumptions. I would hope that all parties can agree on the first, that the site is close to the river. The second is that climate change is real. The federal Environmental Protection Agency states that, “in recent years, a larger percentage of precipitation has come in the form of intense single-day events. The amount of rain falling on the heaviest rain days has also increased over the past few decades. It is likely that the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events will increase over most of the United States. … Scientists are highly confident that across most of the United States, the heaviest rainfall events have become more intense and frequent, especially in the Midwest and Northeast, and that the frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall events will further increase in the future for most areas of the United States.” Further information is available here.

There are acceptable risks and unnecessary risks. The current location is an unnecessary one.  Vote No.

Glenn Barger 
Canton

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