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Letter to the Editor: Vote No to rebuild the DPW facility at the Farmington River site  

October 28, 2016 Government, Opinion, Referendum 1 Comment

To the Editor:

Where to start? Being a member of the Permanent Municipal Building Committee (PMBC) for over ten years and having worked on the DPW project for much of that time, I see so many negative aspects of the current proposal I still can’t believe it has made it to a referendum. It has, however, and after spending so much time and effort towards the development of a new DPW facility, I find it truly painful to be in the position of arguing against any proposal to replace the current facility. I simply cannot, however, support such a flawed and short sighted plan.

The many negatives associated with rebuilding the DPW facility at the current site are well described in the PMBC report to the Selectmen, but they have chosen to disregard the recommendations of the four Town residents most knowledgeable about this project by bringing the current proposal to referendum. I will not attempt to reiterate all the negative points here, but will focus on one issue that I don’t feel has been adequately publicized or is well understood by the public – the true physical impact that the proposed facility will have on the river site.

  • The proposed facility is simply too big for the available site, the present site represents roughly half the area considered appropriate for  a DPW facility serving a Town the size of Canton. The proposed facility is much bigger than the existing buildings on the site (3-4 times as large) and will physically and visually overwhelm the site, leaving little available area for recreation purposes, while creating an industrial environment not consistent with recreational use.
  • While the proposed facility is far too big for the site, it is too small to meet the real needs of the DPW and the site offers no opportunity whatsoever for future expansion. This will lock the Town into an undersized facility for the foreseeable future.
  • Because the proposed facility is undersized, there is no doubt that vehicles and equipment will regularly be left outside. In reviewing the plans, it’s like a jigsaw puzzle to fit all the equipment inside, there is no way the DPW staff will do this each night (this has been publically acknowledged by the DPW Director). This means that the equipment will be subject to the weather and the area will be further compromised for recreational use.
  • Because the budget has been cut to the absolute minimum, the quality of the building will be such that it will not age well.

The net outcome is that in the relatively near future the Town will be stuck with a similar, but much larger, run down, industrial looking facility located on an extremely focal and valuable piece of river frontage. There is no doubt in my mind that if the proposed facility is constructed at the present DPW site, within twenty years future Town leaders will again be looking to relocate the facility to improve aesthetics, create valuable recreational space and establish resiliency by getting critical Town infrastructure out of the flood plain.

I do not oppose the proposed reduction in the size of the DPW facility from that previously considered in order to reduce the budget to a level Town residents will find acceptable. But if the size of the facility is to be reduced, it must be located at a site where future expansion is possible. With a smaller size and reconfigured arrangement, other sites should be evaluated and may even result in lower costs while satisfying the long term goals of the DPW and the community. The one positive thing that has come out of the referendum proposal is that it has raised awareness among Town residents regarding the need for a new DPW facility. With this heightened awareness, I am confident that a far better solution can be developed than that proposed for this referendum.

David W Madigan



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