LETTER: Park Ridge Should Keep, Upgrade Volunteer Fire Dept.
To the Editor-
I’m one of those weirdos who believes we are now in an era of runaway climate change. The rest of the century consists of climate-disaster relief all over the world.
Closer to home, the freak windstorm of June 12, 2017, and the outstanding performance of your volunteer fire department, should convince all in Park Ridge that it’s time to keep our volunteer fire department, and to provide them with the resources they need to upgrade: A new building for a firehall, and a couple of used fire trucks that can be updated and maintained, as they were for decades with former Fire Chief, Ron Slicer.
My big regret after serving as village trustee and then interim president was that our board couldn’t reach consensus about the need to improve our fire department.
We could build a steel building for under $250,000, per bids. We could procure used, updated trucks using Capt. Slicer’s negotiating skills, under $500,000 for a pair. I met with Paul Adamski, president of Pineries Bank, late in 2016 and he was prepared at the time to offer a loan with a swell interest rate under the rate being charged on USDA Rural Development Loans.
This proved to me the value of local, community bankers, by the way.
To hand over your fire protection to Stevens Point does not make sense for a couple reasons. The $75,000 per annun quoted to us in meetings with the mayor’s office runs to $1,500,000 over a 20-year span.
When costs begin to rise again, this is not a locked-in rate; it will rise. Add-in the $330,000 minimum cost of running mains for fire hydrants down just one street, for example, Greenbriar, and you will be approaching $2 million in costs.
The human element, however, is the crucial factor. If you dismiss your volunteers, your county will lose 14 to 16 well-motivated, well-trained topnotch fire fighters. Having these folks available to Portage County responder resources benefits everyone.
When I drove out to Junction City to retrieve a generator just after the giant windstorm, I saw responders fully deployed everywhere I looked. You need all the people you can get on-task, in this era of global-warming freakishness.
The volunteers aren’t going to end up getting hired by local departments with already-stressed budgets. You will just lose, period.
Do the right thing, Park Ridge: keep the fire department.
Bob Gifford, former trustee, former interim president, Village of Park Ridge
Jane Maya Shippy, village resident since 1974
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