Sunday, January 4, 2015

2015 Goal(s) #1

AFD Central Station

Once again the important issues I plan to cover with gusto in the New Year, even as it becomes an old year, will come as no surprise to my regular readers.  And once again we have a tie for #1 -- both of them related to public safety:

New South Amherst Fire Station:  Short of immolating myself on the town common I plan to do everything possible to ensure the town, finally, gets off its lazy bureaucratic ass and breaks ground on the badly needed new fire station.

Yes, maybe my major structure fire in South Amherst 27 years ago unduly influences my preoccupation with fire safety.

But I'm sure that's the same for anyone who has dealt with The Beast up close, smelled its stench, choked on acrid black smoke, and listened helplessly to the demented crackle as your home was rapidly being consumed. 

The needs of a 21st century fire department have outgrown the iconic 85 year old Central Fire Station.  Neither of the ladder trucks will even fit into the building and the electrical systems and HVAC were state of the art back when our troops were fighting in South East Asia. 

The first "study" identifying the need for a new station was issued back when President Dwight D. Eisenhower occupied the White House, while the most recent study, issued in 2006, collects dust in historic Town Hall (renovated in 1997 at a cost of $3.2 million).

 Amherst DPW, 586 South Pleasant Street

A Request For Proposals is almost ready to hire a consultant to start the process of building new DPW home, the Jones Library is on their way to a $10 million renovation/expansion project, and Town Meeting recently approved a $1 million study of Wildwood Elementary School for a mega-expensive school building project that looms in the near future.

 Last year's AFD capital request (ignored by town officials) included $8 million one year and $4 million the next for new South Fire Station

Just remember who will protect all these expensive new buildings (not counting all the new construction projects at UMass).

Maybe I'll print bumper stickers:  "Fire Safety Comes 1st, As Should a New South Fire Station!"

And of course a new building or new equipment is pretty useless unless you have an adequate number of staff to operate it.  Last year AFD Dispatch had to issue public pleas over the radio 200 times for off-duty personnel to report in for "station coverage".

Meaning not enough on-duty firefighters were available to do their job of protecting the public.  What if The Beast came calling again in deep South Amherst at any of those precise vulnerable moments?

 DHG 11/13/87 back when they had the staff to cover breaking news on page 1

The Town Manager seems to (sort of) understand the serious issue of low staffing at APD, pointing out to the Select Board last year how police staffing has decreased 10% since 2007 while UMass/Amherst has expanded student population 16% during that same time frame.

But he didn't let that motivate him enough to include any extra police (or firefighter) staffing in his budget that year.  On January 15th Town Manager Musante will present his 2016 budget to his bosses the 5-member Amherst Select Board (and the Finance Committee).

Let's hope this time his $70+ million budget includes increased public safety staffing for both police and fire.

And let's hope while we're waiting, no one dies a preventable death.

Last night APD called in "mutual aid" from UMass PD and Hadley PD K9 unit to assist bagging a perp for Breaking & Entering at at Lincoln Avenue house (which was hit by a B & E two nights ago).


Dr. Ed said...

What is wrong with the existing DPW building?

And what is wrong with calling mutual aid from UMPD when you are all but in their jurisdiction -- land which they may (should) know better than the APD? Depending where the house was on Lincoln, 3 directions is UM land -- and the keasr likely (down the street) APDs.

Dr. Ed said...

Amherst & Hadley ought to do what Malden & Revere did. They had a lot of new stuff far from either city, so they split a station, each FD has one engine & crew there and if it is anything serious, both engines roll.

Hadley has a LONG way to go to get to the malls and such.

Anonymous said...

A new fire station would be money worth spending. Everlasting good for many generations. This is much better than the one and a half million grant to put wires underground in front of the Arch projects. This should be an expense they should make not the taxpayer.

Larry Kelley said...

The underground utility grant is state money.

Unfortunately the state does not give grants for fire stations.

Anonymous said...

But it did for Wildwood, so it's not that the town chose to spend it there instead of on a new fire station.

Larry Kelley said...

That too was state money (well, 60% anyway).

Dr. Ed said...

Unfortunately the state does not give grants for fire stations.

The Department of Homeland Security does -- you would be AMAZED at what they have funded...

The Juggernaut said...

I don't understand, crime has dropped even though the population has increased. Why hire more police officers when those nuisance house tickets have seemingly worked so well (as you claim)?

Larry Kelley said...

You must have missed my recent rape report.

Anonymous said...

We didn't miss your rape report. It doesn't mean there are more rapes, simply more women reporting what they consider rape based on schools offering more education on the subject. Are you next going to state the myth that one in four women are raped?

Larry Kelley said...

Doesn't sound like any crime statistic would move you.

Anonymous said...

MYTH: One in Five College Women are Victims of Sexual Assault

FACT: The actual rate of sexual assault against college women is 0.6% per year — 2.4% over the four-year college period — according to the Department of Justice report. This number includes assaults that are reported and not reported to the police.

MYTH: Students Are at Greater Risk than Their Non-College Peers

FACT: The same DOJ study found that female non-students are at higher risk of sexual assault than college students.

MYTH: Women Don’t Trust Law Enforcement to Handle Rape Cases

FACT: Women place far greater trust in law enforcement officials than campus administrators to investigate rape allegations, according to a 2014 YouGov poll.

MYTH: Rape is the Most Under-Reported Crime

FACT: According to the DOJ report, Victimizations Not Reported to the Police, 67% of thefts are not reported to the police. Rape ranks a close second, with 65% of these incidents not being reported.

MYTH: Only 2-8% of Rape Allegations are False

FACT: A study conducted at two universities reported that 41% of campus rape claims were false. And a law review article directly discredited the 2% figure. There is no reliable way to ascertain the exact rate of false or unsubstantiated claims of sexual assault.

Rape Culture4MYTH: Our Nation Promotes a Rape Culture

FACT: Rapes have fallen dramatically in recent years. Numerous laws, programs, and services are in place to stop rape and help victims. The vast majority of Americans are horrified by rape. “Rape culture” has no basis in reality.

MYTH: “Everything is Rape”

Even though this claim is obviously ludicrous, a Google search turns up 32,000 hits. One activist claimed, for example, that “Everything is rape until every man fears us as much as we fear them.” Such inflammatory statements serve to discredit the movement to stop rape and engender skepticism toward victims.

MYTH: Encouraging Women to Follow Common-Sense Rape Prevention Measures is “Blaming the Victim”

FACT: Does anyone believe telling homeowners to lock their doors to prevent theft represents “blaming the victim”? This is an example how campus activists place ideology above the practical needs of college students.

MYTH: Sexual Assaults of Men are Infrequent

FACT: Similar numbers of men and women are victims of Other Sexual Violence in the past year, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

Consent is Sexy4MYTH: Affirmative Consent is Effective

FACT: There is no evidence that Affirmative Consent is effective in thwarting rape, and its proponents have yet to provide a coherent explanation how the policy would deter a would-be rapist intent on assaulting a woman. Persons have criticized the “yes-means-yes” policy for many reasons.

MYTH: Skeptics of These Claims are “Rape Denialists” and “Purported Rapists”

FACT: These baseless accusations appear to be an attempt to preclude thoughtful, rational debate.

MYTH: Revealing These Claims to be Myths is Just a “Distraction“

FACT: One editor actually proclaimed that allowing “fact checking define the narrative would be a huge mistake.” Sound policies and effective programs need to be based on reliable information. Working to solve an important social problem does not justify the systematic distortion of the truth.

Larry Kelley said...

So do you think any of the local statistics I reported are wrong ... that I made them up?

Anonymous said...

Not at all. Just saying that statistics are numbers that can mean anything. Just because reported cases of rape have increased means nothing by itself.

Larry Kelley said...

Well I heard District Attorney Dave Sullivan say this morning that he wants to stamp out campus rape by 2020.

A very tall order.

Anonymous said...

Good luck stamping out anything. Please advise when obesity and Islamophobia Phobia are finished off.