On Thursday, it was standing room only for a Public Hearing regarding Fire Protection for the Town of Macedon, at the Macedon Town Hall. The Town has proposed to amend its fire protection coverage when the Macedon Village Fire Department’s contract expires in December of 2013. The new proposal states that the Macedon Center Fire Department would extend its current coverage area of north of the canal, to additionally cover the south side.
Of the approximately 120 attendees, 71 residents signed up to take the mike and address the Town Board. Of those who spoke out, the majority were residents of the village, and were against the proposed changes.
Town Board member, David Maul, opened the hearing with a prepared statement on behalf of the town board. He read; “The town’s contribution to the Macedon Village Fire Department’s budget is currently 71%, however when the town has tried partnering with the village, the village has denied, and in the past was even quoted telling the town; ‘No payment, no trucks roll.’ This [town] board knows full well we represent the taxpayers of this community, and therefore has concern that [the community’s] tax dollars are being spent without any real partnership or say in how those tax dollars are spent.”
In response, Village of Macedon Mayor Marie Cramer, stated; “This is in the past. Our fire department has had a recent increase in volunteerism. The village wants peace and sustainability. We need to work together and stop this.” The intent of the town, they stated, was to move forward and provide the best fire coverage for its residents and still remain fiscally responsible with the taxpayer’s dollars – it proved to be an impossible task not to delve into the ongoing issues of the past between the town and village.
In addressing past issues, the town explained that they were trying to demonstrate a pattern and history that they are attempting not to duplicate in the future. The town board explained that there have been numerous attempts ,on the behalf of the town, to work together in a partnership with the village. Town Supervisor, Bill Hammond, noted he has attended the village board meetings in an attempt to start dialogues, but that, even simple requests for documentation regarding the ISO requirements for the 2007 purchase of a $629,200.00 aerial ladder truck ,were ignored. Supervisor Hammond then asked Mayor Cramer; “Would you agree that without input from our taxpayers, this is taxation without representation?”
The addition of the aerial truck proved to remain a hot topic throughout the hear ing, and Chief Tim Wilcox responded by noting; “That truck is not used solely for the purposes of the village. It has been called upon by other districts in need of its use, as well.”
Village Trustee and volunteer firefigher/EMT Dave Kelly, addressed the town board saying; “We’re not here to bicker back and forth, we’re here to protect. I agree, taxpayers should have a say. But you’re saving nothing if you go along with this venture. And should you go forward with this venture, I request all your resignations tonight.”
When the floor was opened up to the public, overwhelming support was shown from residents who do not wish to see a new fire district created. The concerned residents echoed the same concerns over and again, with the number one concern being safety. Some speakers said that Macedon Center volunteers will surely have a longer response time when going to calls on the south side of town. Financial concerns were also voiced. Residents indicated that to building a new centrally-located firehouse, and purchasing additional apparatus and equipment would surely cost more taxpayer’s dollars. One resident cited the current issue of the closure of local Erie Canal bridges, saying” “This is nonsense. Macedon Center cannot efficiently respond to the south side of town with bridges being out.”
Perhaps almost as often as concerned residents spoke of safety, they also spoke out about the village and town boards needing to end their quarrels. “We don’t need politics, we need boards who are going to work together.” Several residents even offered to mediate future negotiations between the two boards.
Ultimately, after each resident was given their turn to speak, it came back to the boards. Councilman Maul made a motion to table the proposed resolution, which was approved.
The next step became clear: the boards will need to hold a joint meeting, in an effort to mend fences. Village Trustee, Dave Sliney, addressed the town board saying, “The one thing the town and village board members have in common is we’re all proud members of the Macedon community, and we’re losing sight of that.” He then proposed that, by next week, the village would provide three dates in which the two boards could meet, giving the town the option to choose one. The town agreed to this solution, and the hearing was closed at 10:10 PM.
Once the meeting date is selected, both boards will advertise in their official newspaper The Times of Wayne County, as well as on their websites. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.
By Becky Block