GUEST COLUMN: Town and fire district boards need to collaborate on fire museum
July 25, 2008
After attending each of the two community meetings concerning the possible relocation of the tornado-destroyed fire museum in Boardwalk Park, I came away with the following understandings.
Although it was stated numerous times by fire district officials that they were not opposed to moving the museum location, all dialogue after that statement totally amounted to impediments to doing so. I feel the good will statement was followed by conditions which basically threw the whole process under the train.
One of the first “conditions” set forth was that there would absolutely be no design or material selection change. No matter where the museum is rebuilt it would be exactly the same as the demolished one. Citizens of the community have expressed numerous times prior to the first town meeting and clearly at that meeting their dissatisfaction of the architecture. It is out of place in that setting, and it was usually referred to as a fast food chain restaurant.
Fire district officials set forth a rebuild schedule which would probably be impossible to meet in regard to any changes. After nearly five years of construction, why set forth a building schedule which could not allow for any changes? The strategy in doing this is apparent ” no change whatever in design or location.
It was clearly conveyed at the last meeting that the fire district would no longer be in charge of or lead the new museum construction. With that being said, the fire district officials stated that a construction professional would have to be hired or provided to lead the project. I truly realize that this has been a difficult project for the WSFPD the last five years, but walking away from the project is no solution to the problems either.
The list of “other requirements” to relocate the museum is an intimidating list meant to discourage any relocation or design change. Given the spirit and resourcefulness of this community, I believe these issues/requirements can be met or overcome.
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My largest concern and issue with this entire process and project is how the costs for rebuilding have been determined. When questioned how the $527,000 and relocation “estimates” were arrived at, the fire district official answering audience questions revealed that they were obtained without any competitive bidding process. Proceeding forward with this size of a project and just awarding a contract to a contractor or subcontractor is certainly a matter of just opening the checkbook for all parties. The fiduciary irresponsibility of this project lends to out-of-control costs and possible abusive practices. I am unable to comprehend how the Town of Windsor could become deeply involved into a “money pit” based on the limited financial cost estimates.
The town and fire district boards need to collaborate on this issue and make this an even better park facility. The citizens deserve and expect this.
Edward R. Starck is a lifelong Windsor resident and the former mayor of Windsor.