Submitted by Erin Sandler-Rathe
In John Stella’s Feb. 6 letter, he offers no proof – or even a single example – that the Preservation Collaborative’s report is inaccurate. Simply asserting that the Historical Society has the correct information – and the Collaborative is incorrect – doesn’t make it so. Historical research is not a “one and done” endeavor; our historical understanding evolves all the time. That’s what historians as a discipline do: they continually re-examine historical events and people and places that we think we already know all about. They challenge presumptions and narratives that have been passed down as “fact” by re-testing and re-authenticating evidence that has been collected and examining sources that were ignored or overlooked in the past – much like the work done in the Preservation Collaborative’s investigation. New evidence is found, old evidence is discredited, old evidence is re-contextualized in light of new evidence, etc. Their work forces us to confront uncomfortable truths sometimes: slavery wasn’t just a southern problem, America is not technically a democracy, and the Salem witch trials weren’t the result of ergot poisoning. The difference between the work historians do and the beliefs of the members of an historical society is like the difference between a police department and armchair sleuths.
Implying that the Town has not studied alternative sites or alternative ways to bring the fire department into the 21st century nor considered the historical society’s records and input is flat-out wrong. The Town has repeatedly shown at Town Meeting and in public hearings the sites that had been considered and rejected. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of documents on the Town’s website that detail all of this.
Spring 2022 Town Meeting approved this site by a supermajority. Lawsuits objecting to the Town’s site selection process have been found to be without merit in court. The citizen articles presented by Don Corey at fall Town Meeting didn’t even receive support from 1/3 of voters. “Many” Bedford residents may feel there are better ways to handle this, but a large and clear majority of us have voted to move forward with the Town’s plans.