During my unsuccessful campaign for Selectman, one of my central tenants was utilizing regionalization to save money. At the June 15th Selectboard meeting, the new Board was presented one such effort, namely a proposed Regional Emergency Communications Center (RECC). The purpose of the RECC is enable the member Towns to field their own cellular 911 calls, something I feel all can agree is needed as in a true emergency, seconds can be the difference between life and death. The consultants asked to examine the issue, The Carell Group, identified the Greenwood Center as the best option for this project as it was most suitable to renovations.
As always, where an improvement is wanted, there is a cost. And in this case, the cost has three components. First, there is the financial cost projected to be $3.3 million in hard costs for the renovation of the proposed site, and an additional $2.4 million in soft costs. Second, to residents of Longmeadow, there is the opportunity costs associated with the loss of the current use of the Greenwood Center. And thirdly, there will be the costs of relocating the services currently provided within the Greenwood Center affecting both young and old in our community.
There are many unknowns regarding this project including (1) the number of communities who will join, and hence share the financial burden, and (2) whether the State can be relied upon to financially hold up to its promises (as it has not done so on the LHS project), and (3) the uncertainty of the long-term costs.
I am a big fan of regionalism. I am a big fan of public safety. But I am not a big fan of supporting projects that have not been thought out completely. The funding is questionable, and there are no publicly available solutions as to what happens to the programs currently housed within the Greenwood Center. With our Town's revenue approaching the legal upper mil rate limit, and with the community contemplating major overhauls for both our middle schools, public works, and seniors, this is not the time for our Selectman to support such a project.
I encourage our Selectboard to review the report from the Carell Group and explore the merits of the second and third place locations.
Jeffrey Klotz, CPA, MBA
487 Converse Street, Longmeaodow