The Essex selectmen deserve credit for steering a plan for fire station roof repairs onto the fast track.
While Fire Chief Dan Doucette notes that the leaky roof might not be seen as posing an urgent public safety threat, that might not be far off if, in fact, water leaking through the roof gets into some of the department’s computer or other electronics. So, considering that Town Meeting voters emphatically backed tapping the town’s free cash account for $15,000 to cover the project, the selectmen made the right call in backing Town Administrator Brendhan Zubricki’s recommendation to set next Wednesday as the deadline for project bids, with a goal of Dec. 13 – a week from today — for signing off on the work.
As this patchwork project moves forward, however, it’s important that all town officials and residents recognize this for what it is — a first and very small step toward addressing Essex’s public safety workplace needs.
The town-funded 2011 public building study by Reinhardt Associates of Agawam indicated that the towns’ next primary capital building focus should zoom in on plans for a new public safety complex on town-owned property off John Wise Avenue.
Hopefully, this emergency roofing project will kick-start renewed talks on that need as well. The need for this short-term repair project now should serve as a message to all that the larger project is long, long overdue.