Commentary by Fred Glynn
Currently there is a piece of land at 161st and River Rd. that is owned by the city of Westfield. The idea has been suggested that a public safety training center should be built on this land. A tower would be built where Firefighters could practice fighting live fires along with a shooting range in addition to other items. The County Council is being asked to contribute 3 million of your tax dollars to this project. This funding is only for phase one.
The other phases that will be requested in the future will cost tens of millions more which has been acknowledged by supporters of the project. In a recent article in the Westfield Current Commissioner Heirbrandt was quoted as saying; “I see us maybe in March/April having more discussions about the training facility and move to the next stage of implementation if the county council is interested in public safety for our community,” I am not sure what the intent of this quote was but I think you can understand how this message could be received by members of the Council.
If the County Council tries to do its due diligence on behalf of taxpayers when it comes to the training center, we will be painted as anti-public safety. Nothing is mentioned in this article about total cost, efficiency, savings to the community, how much each governmental unit is to contribute, etc. None of this information has been presented to the County Council.
The week of December 22nd resolutions were dropped off to the Councils in Westfield, Carmel, Fishers, and Noblesville. From what I understand the Commissioners had the county attorney draw them up. It has each one of those entities funding $40K per year for the operating cost of the center with a strong recommendation that the county contribute $3M for upfront cost of phase one. This is a tactic that is being used to get the County Council to fund the project. Maybe this is a good idea, maybe it’s not. I don’t really know at this point.
I will make my decision based on the merits, not emotion or intimidation. Here are the questions and concerns that I have about the training center that the interested parties have not answered. Why is the County being asked to fund the majority share of this when there is no county fire department? The cities, towns, and townships in our county are legally responsible for fire protection and yet the County Council will be against public safety if we don’t fund this project? Is this a need or a want? Currently there is a state of the art training facility in Wayne Twp (Marion County) that all of our fire departments can use. When it was built, it was supposed to be the facility that served the entire region. That facility will still exist if this one gets built. Will we save money overall by spending large sums on our own center and not using the one in Wayne Twp?
What are the total costs and what is each governmental unit in the county providing? Currently the townships have not been approached to fund anything and the amount of money that the cities are proposing is a small amount. If this is proven to be necessary, ALL government entities in the county should have to chip in to do this in the most fiscally responsible manner possible.
Everyone will need to contribute their appropriate share and work together. We all want to support public safety but we need to do it in a way that benefits our community and protects the interest of taxpayers. The County Council has not been provided any of the necessary information to make an informed decision on this project. We have not received any feasibility studies, long-term savings to the county, total cost estimates, or what each community is contributing now and into the future.
Until I receive that information and I can see how this would benefit our county, I will not be supporting this project. I promised when I ran for this office that I would put your (the taxpayers’) interest first and that’s what I intend to do. Commissioner Heirbrandt and the supporters of this project would do well to be partners with the County Council, be fully transparent, and not negotiate their agenda through the media. That is how partnerships work and things get done. Fred Glynn Hamilton County Council district 1