Members of the Bovey Fire Department came to the city council meeting last week to express concern over the possibility of merging with the Coleraine Fire Department.
Ashley Moran spoke on behalf of the Bovey firefighters in attendance and told the council that all 13 members present at a recent fire department meeting had voted against combining the two firefighting forces. “We don’t feel the pros outweigh the cons. We’re not for it,” she said.
Moran said firefighters didn’t care for recently unveiled design plans for a joint services facility, which also included space for both cities’ police departments. Bovey firefighters, she said, agreed that the system currently in place was working well and didn’t believe a combined department would save money. Later, councilors suggested that sharing a building without an actual merger might be a better first step on the path to consolidation.
After the council listened to fire department concerns, Mayor Mike Bibich told those in attendance that Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation funds in the amount of $450,000 to construct the proposed emergency services facility were contingent upon deeper collaboration. The city, therefore, couldn’t use that money to repair or upgrade its own facilities.
At a joint meeting on Feb. 11, designers presented alternative plans for a jointly shared fire/public safety facility. Price tags ranged from $1.6 to $2.3 million. Bibich said a joint facility wasn’t likely to be built at any of those costs given that the two cities had secured approximately $610,000 toward the new facility. A joint committee has asked for alternative plans with different specs to be drawn in an attempt to bring down costs.
Meanwhile, the council verbally agreed to try to broker a meeting between the two cities fire departments and city councils to address firefighters’ concerns.
In other business, the council:
• Approved a donation of $500 for a veteran’s memorial.
• Approved the minutes of the Feb. 5, 2014 regular council meeting.
• Approved bills and disbursements as presented for payment.
• Adopted a revised parking ordinance.
• Discussed more closely following Robert’s Rules of Order during council meetings.
• Discussed more closely adhering to Robert’s Rules of Order. Councilor Bob Stein brought the matter to the council saying that he’s sometimes asked to vote on something right away and would rather discuss then have it brought back to the next meeting.