Submitted by Michael Seibert
While considering whether or not to support and submit the November town meeting petitioners’ article, I spoke with its author, many of its signatories, two members of the project’s building committee, and each member of our Select Board. I read the materials available via the Town of Bedford project page and SaveOurBlock.
In gathering later information, I also met with our new town manager, five Bedford firefighters, and several impartial residents who have experience with municipal building projects. I attended a presentation made by the architects and project building committee.
I invite other residents to do the same before making assertions about the motivation or content of the petition, and in order to arrive at a fully informed decision.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far. The petitioners seek that the Select Board identify and report the details of a Plan B site as a fallback in the event that the primary site fails to remain tenable. I discovered that the existential risks of Plan A are the need for a 2/3 town meeting vote approving a construction bond, and a decision by our Historic District Commission about whether or not demolishing the building at 139 Great Road and altering the streetscape derogates the district.
As a result of my information gathering, here is what the petitioners’ article is not:
- Neither for nor against any sites
- Doesn’t breach contracts
- Not about slowing construction
- Doesn’t add cost
- Not an illegal article
- Doesn’t bind the Select Board
- Not about rehashing available information
- Doesn’t disrupt nor distract our building committee
This article seeks to keep our progress on track and within budget by developing additional information to ensure we realize a fire station that meets or exceeds the needs of our emergency responders, without going back to square one if any of the risks to Plan A materialize.
Simply put, it requests a commonplace, industry-standard risk mitigation practice.