GFD’s arrogance led to quixotic quest

To the Editor:

This is in response to last week’s article on the Guilderland Fire District’s vote to build a $ 3.9 million expansion to the Guilderland Fire Department facilities.

Mr. David Messercola suggested to The Enterprise that I should have talked to the board of fire commissioners before taking my action.  I did, at the referendum.  I asked why the project hadn’t received more publicity.

The arrogant response I received was what started me on my quixotic quest. They told me that there had been three notices in The Enterprise, and three public hearings. So I went searching for those notices, which turned up in the legal notices at the back of the paper — which few people read. Those three “public hearings” drew a total of five people, probably all firemen.

They also told me that they didn’t need to publicize it on the fire department’s website because it “wasn’t the Fire Department’s project,” it was the commissioners’ project, and they didn’t have a website.  

Mr. Messercola also stated that I should have familiarized myself with the process. Believe me, for a while I did little else.

I read “Bond Basics for Fire Districts in New York State,” by Thomas E. Myers and Douglas E. Goodfriend, and suspect that Appendix C was the guideline used by the fire district.  But I also read the Consolidated Law of the State of New York, which they apparently didn’t read, or they would have known that they needed to notify Town Hall of their public hearings, and publicize those hearings on the town’s website.  To my way of thinking, that’s the least they should have done.

Mr. Messercola stated that he finds my accusations offensive. What I find offensive is that the same group that put together and “publicized” this project gets to decide for themselves that their actions were sufficient to let the public know that the average taxpayer will find his tax bill increased by $70 per year for the next 15 years as a result of their actions — to say nothing of the costs of maintaining these facilities.

I’m not positive that results would have been different if the community had been informed of the district’s actions. I’m not sure that publication of their public hearings on the town’s website would have made a sizable difference in the turnout. I am sure that most municipalities are doing everything they can to keep taxes from increasing. The public has a right to be informed and decide for themselves if this is something we need right now.

Linda Chaffee

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