To the editor:
Rockporters, we have the lowest tax rate in Essex County and the 34th lowest of the 351 communities in the state. This is great! But we also are asking our Department of Public Works employees to work in abysmal and unsafe conditions when not outdoors. We can and we must do better than this.
Several years ago when a similar proposal came up for a vote I was really ambivalent because of the cost, until I took the tour of the DPW building. “Can the conditions be that bad?” I asked myself. They were indeed. In fact they were far, far worse than I could have imagined. Vehicles so close I wondered how they could leave the barn without accident or injury. No state-required fire control system and no safe place to store the necessary, yet dangerous chemicals needed in aspects of the employees’ work. A tiny office space with everything jammed and crammed together.
I took the tour again this year and went to the highly informative presentation held afterward in the decidedly pleasant and comfortable Police Station, just across the way from the DPW barn. Safety aside for a moment, how could we treat our town employees so very differently?
I learned much from the excellent presentation by the Building Study Committee. I also found the article written by Gloucester Daily Times reporter Michael Cronin to be an excellent synopsis of the evenings proceedings. One small part of the meeting in particular really banished any question of the need to rebuild an appropriately sized and safe DPW building, and that was to see three slides, each showing the devastation of three DPW facilities in other towns that had collapsed, destroying most if not all of the DPW vehicles stored within.
In spite of the cost, I as a taxpayer with a limited income, am not willing to take this chance on the safety of our town employees and the expensive equipment stored within this outdated and unsafe building. I urge all who care about the safety of our employees, our roads, our buildings and of all who live in Rockport to attend Town Meeting Monday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium and vote for Article H, a request for a Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion, to fund a new and safe DPW facility.