#LetterToTheEditor #YourVoice #SpotlightNews
Editor, The Spotlight:
I am writing as a lifelong resident of Bethlehem, a longstanding associate member of Selkirk Fire Co. #2, and a property and business owner in Glenmont and Delmar. My dad was District Chief of the Selkirk Fire Department for 15 years and Company Chief of Selkirk #2 in Glenmont for 10 years prior to that. My grandparents donated the land on which the Glenmont firehouse sits. As such, I have intimate knowledge of the history and evolution of the Department and I wish to address the current $17.8 million expansion proposal of the Selkirk Fire Department, including the new firehouse on Route 9W in Selkirk.
Our Fire District covers over 60 percent of the land area in the Town of Bethlehem, and virtually all of the heavy industry in the town. We have major oil and gasoline terminals to plastics to fiberglass manufacturing to the largest railroad facility in the Northeast, all carrying various levels of hazardous materials and large fire potential, all located within the District, not to mention the 7 miles of the New York State Thruway and Hudson River, including the southern Port of Albany. Routes 9W, 144, and 396 are the busiest commercial/industrial roadways in the Town, and are those with the highest potential growth of any area in the Town of Bethlehem as well as the highest risk areas for potential disaster without adequate fire protection.
Although beautifully designed, the project is very expensive — $17.8 million is a huge sum of money — the most ever spent on a single project in the Department’s history. Our already overburdened taxpayers in the community will be paying on average about $100.00 per year in additional taxes on their homes.
That said, we must always question, but ultimately trust our elected officials to make the proper decisions as regards our health and safety. In this case, I truly believe that our Fire Commissioners are looking ahead to the future with the public’s interest at heart – I know most of them personally and I cannot think of a more honest, intelligent, professional, and committed group of individuals sitting around that table where critical decisions are made on behalf of all of us.
What I urge is for everyone to take a look at the project with an open mind. Go to http://selkirkfd.org/building-project/ and make a close study of the proposal – it affects the future of fire protection for the entire Fire District. Also, take a look at the video about the project at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMiMm3JXD88&feature=share
I urge each and every resident to think about the future and what we will be dealing with over the next several decades – the choice is yours and yours alone. All of that said, it is up to the voters living in the District to either approve the project or send it back to the drawing board….but in any case, it is critical that you VOTE on Tuesday, Dec. 11, from 12 to 9 p.m.
Keith A. Wiggand,