To the editor of THE EAGLE:
The Williamstown Police Association Local 424 (WPA) is asking residents to attend today's special meeting of the Fire District and support public safety in Williamstown by voting "yes" on the land acquisition the district seeks.
Purchase of the Lehovec property is a critical step forward in ensuring our town's safety as well as enhancing it. By acquiring this strategically important land, additional time will not be wasted searching for an adequate parcel to construct a new and desperately needed fire station, police station or public safety complex. The community must realize both the police and fire stations are obsolete and unsafe, placing our entire community at risk. There are two exceptionally vital points to recognize when considering this request from the Fire District.
First, acquisition of this land is not a vote to construct a new fire station; it is only to secure this land for a possible future site of a fire station or public safety complex. Critics of the district will attempt to influence voters by highlighting the purchase price in comparison to its assessed value. However, throughout the district's study of a new building, land owners were not seeking out the district trying to market their property; on the contrary, it's been the district seeking out land as workable sites. The reason for this is uncomplicated. After many years of professional study, the Lehovec site is the only practical location for a new building.
Secondly, there has been a tremendous amount of discussion regarding the construction of a public safety complex. The WPA would unquestionably support this undertaking if the community voted for such a course. However, if the Fire District does not obtain the two-thirds majority today, any likelihood of building a public safety complex in Williamstown will be forever squandered. The Lehovec property is the only piece of land which could accommodate such a structure.
On Oct. 15, the majority of residents voted in favor of acquiring this piece of property. Regrettably, the minority was able to tilt the super-majority required and defy the wishes of the community.
The WPA strongly encourages all residents of Williamstown who support their community and public safety to attend this important meeting and vote "yes" so the police and fire departments can continue to serve you as you unquestionably deserve.
SGT. SCOTT E. MCGOWAN
The writer is president of the Williamstown Police Association, Local 424 AFL-CIO.