As Groton's new fire department headquarters takes shape, equipping that department with the needs of a 21st century fire service, Townsend Fire took a major hit in its efforts to do the same.
Fire Chief Don Klein had planned to take the question of funding the new fire headquarters to Town Meeting voters Nov. 19. But due to a late opinion from town council, the question was never asked of voters.
Selectmen are blaming the Capital Planning Committee due to its vote in favor of funding land acquisition and surveying costs only, instead of the full project cost. Due to town regulations, the full project could not be voted on. The committee is being blamed for standing in the way of the project.
But for a project of this size, the selectmen should be squarely at the helm. They should have been following the project's progress through town boards and shepherding it wherever needed. If the vote by Capital Planning needed some discussion, call a meeting and do it.
According to CPC member Carolyn Smart, several emails were sent to Selectman Sue Lizio asking what effect the CPC vote would have on the project's vote. Lizio didn't answer the emails, saying later that such action would have constituted an illegal meeting. But all she had to do was put the matter on the board's agenda for discussion.
Ignoring the inquiries have now helped to delay a costly project that will not only keep rising in cost but stall the Fire Department's efforts to serve the community.
Chief Klein has been a fine leader of Townsend Fire. He is trying hard to get this project off the ground before he retires in March.
Now, even purchase of the land upon which the headquarters was to be built is in jeopardy.
Fingers may be pointed in a number of directions in this failure, but the blame rests with the town's top board.