Paul Cohen has published a letter titled "Financial Information about the Fire Station Proposal." However, it doesn't provide detailed financial information. Instead, it puts forth three lies and an additional Big Fat Underlying Lie in order to hawk a new fire station on Route 110 at the ball fields.
Hmmm. If you take the interest on the debt ALONE, at 4% (the Town Manager's own figure), then the cost to the average household will be on the order of $40 the first year. If the debt principal is to be paid off over 10 years (the Town Manager doesn't say in his letter), then that adds another $100 or so per household. So, the result of approval for this project would mean an increase of $140 or so per household, declining slightly each year toward $105 or so the final year. If the debt is to be paid off over 20 years, then it means an average increase of about $100 per household for most of that 20 years. How is that $7 or $13 and then "declining thereafter?" It's not! Adding in the tax reductions from unrelated prior debt retirement, combined with providing incomplete information, is a sophist verbal shell game that this Town Manager has played with the voters for years.
Let's get this straight. The town has spent over $100,000 on Center Fire Station studies. They reach similar conclusions: the current location is the best location, and the most cost effective way to keep the station operational is to repair and refurbish it, not build a new one. Out of all the studies, there were 5 potential plans – 3 of which centered around refurbishing the center fire station.
The repair/refurbishment option will cost well under a million dollars. To build a new facility will cost close to $10 million, and the facility will have to be moved to a less desirable location (on Route 110). This statement by the Town Manager is not based on the facts, it is based on protecting the Eliopoulos' investment in construction behind the Center Fire Station.
This is an amazingly brazen lie. The town's own numbers have consistently shown that repair and refurbishment would cost just over a million dollars including repair of the floor, which has already been done (at a cost of some $600,000). So the remaining costs for refurbishment are clearly well under a million dollars.
The City of Nashua's stations have a couple of bays each, much like Chelmsford. Does Chelmsford need more than two bays in the Center? No, it doesn't. Does Chelmsford have too few bays overall? No, we have as many bays as the city of Nashua, NH. Does Chelmsford have too few fire trucks? No, we have as many fire trucks as the city of Nashua, NH. And, in fact, we have one more fire station than Nashua, even though Chelmsford covers ten fewer square miles.
What revealed the "need" for a new fire station was that the Eliopoulos clan wanted every inch of space behind the fire station to build their "small barn-like structure," eliminating space for even minor expansion, which the firemen want. The solution is not to compromise public safety, obliterate open space on Route 110, and spend close to $10 million tax dollars. Rather than spending a large sum to rebuild the Center Fire Station at a less desirable location, it should be refurbished as the fire station study committees recommended: which was the proffered solution until it became clear that the Eliopoulos' wanted to build on the Village Green behind the station. Mr. Cohen has also been fixated on a town-run ambulance service, for which he'd like more bays in the center of town. Too bad, it's not worth the expense and degradation of the town's physical characteristics. The ball fields are priceless open space in the middle of town; once they are built on, that space is gone forever.
The selectmen support Cohen's charade and have placed this debt exclusion on the ballot, even though voters have already overwhelmingly rejected an almost identical proposal in October of 2009. What voters didn't know at that time was just how badly Cohen needed the controversy over the Eliopoulos' construction to go away before the building went up. Now there is even more reason to reject this charade.
The selectmen have ignored Cohen's lies concerning his facilitation of the Eliopoulos land purchase, and continue to ignore the well documented ethics violations of both Phil Eliopoulos and Paul Cohen. Besides voting "No" to the debt exclusion (Prop 2.5 override) on April 5, please return your recall affidavits to Better Not Bigger using the envelope that was enclosed in your mailing. A single 44-cent stamp is all that's needed, even for all four affidavits. Get your neighbors to sign!
Yours with best wishes and hope for the future of our town,
Roland Van Liew