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Letter to the Editor: Hope is Not a Strategy

October 28, 2016 Government, Opinion, Referendum 2 Comments

To the Editor:

Town garage project facts

I want to start my letter with a quote from Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts.”  I have watched for months as letters have been written providing differing opinions related to the proposed town garage project. I thought it was time for facts.

  1. The town had a professional engineering report done in 2008. The report stated building in a flood plain is risky and adds additional costs.
  2. On May 6, 2016, the Permanent Municipal Building Committee (PMBC) which has overseen every large building project for over ten years provided a report to the Board of Selectmen ranking the 50 Old River Rd site last among several sites.
  3. October 8, 2014, the Board of Selectmen adopted the 2014-2019 Capitol Region Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan, which the town provided staff time and input. “Objective 1 is to reduce flooding damages to existing municipal infrastructure. Strategy 1.1 is to continue to monitor the availability of an appropriate site for relocating the town garage.” This plan was adopted by FEMA on December 5, 2014. In March 2016, Capitol Region Council of Governments requested status reports on goals and projects identified by the town. According to CRCOG Canton provided no update.
  4. In the frequently asked questions related to the garage project posted by the town on August 31, 2016, it states. “Along with the Police and Fire Departments, Public Works provides 24 hour services for the public safety of the residents of the Town of Canton. The department’s ability to respond during weather events will be greatly enhanced with our trucks parked inside ensuring that they can begin sanding and plowing operations immediately.” This is an important statement, as Public Works plays a critical role in town’s emergency operations. It is also the sole source of fuel for all town vehicles and equipment. FEMA identifies Public Works as a first responder, and we only have to look south to the recent response to Hurricane Matthew (flooding)  and the work Public Work was tasked with to understand their importance. Simply moving equipment because of the threat of flooding is not a solution.
  5. FEMA and the state require MDC to have plans for failure of dams. MDC has a Goodwin Dam emergency action plan (this document is a protected document.) Bob Skinner did provide to Not On Our River a copy of the inundation maps for a dam failure. The projected water level will come to approximately the white line on the west side of Rte 179. While the dam failure is a low probability event, it would be a high impact event. Even though this is a low probability event, there is a formal document that states the property is at risk.
  6. Canton’s 2014-2024 Plan of Conservation and Development on page 33, states: “Relocate the garage to a site away from the Farmington River. Acquire land and construct a facility adequate to house the Public Works Department.”
  7. The 2011 Upper Collinsville Mills Ponds Plan on page ES-64, states: “Recommendations for Site B (Town Garage) – Relocate the Town Garage facilities”

These documents all exist. They were created by the town, on behalf of the town, or leadership is aware of them. No one has yet produced an authoritative document that negates these documents.

It is an undisputed fact that Public Works needs a new facility, and has for years. Let’s come together and make sure they get an appropriate facility that is not built in a flood plain with a history of flooding. Public Works is critical to any response and recovery. Let’s make sure they can focus on meeting their mission, and not on self preservation at a time of critical need.

So while there has been a great deal of opinion and discussion around this project, I would have you think about the question from a different perspective. If you were building a new house or business and you had this information available to you, would you roll the dice or would you look for a more appropriate site.

Hope is not a strategy.

Bruce Lockwood

Bruce Lockwood is native and resident of Canton. He is a Certified Emergency Manager and a graduate of the National Emergency Management Executive Academy. He is a nationally recognized subject matter expert in emergency management and disaster response. He served on the Board of Selectmen from 2009-2011, and served as Canton’s Fire Marshal/Emergency Management Director from 1997-2007.


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