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Adams fire hall borrowing to be decided by voters in November

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ADAMS — A decision about whether to borrow up to $1.2 million for an expansion of the Adams Fire Department’s hall will be made by voters in November, after opponents gathered the necessary signatures to launch a referendum.

William J. Doe, Planning Board chairman, said Friday he had compiled 300 signatures, and last Tuesday turned in a completed petition to the village.

Opponents had 30 days to collect signatures after the village Board of Trustees approved the borrowing Aug. 19. The petition had 115 signatures more than the required 185 based on the village’s voter count, and was complete in half the allotted time.

“That was our ultimate goal in the beginning, to put it up to the voters,” Mr. Doe said. “Now it’s up to the voters, and it’ll be their decision.”

Mr. Doe repeated that his opposition to the borrowing was its costs, not with the department or its members.

“We think the world of the fire company and the people involved and what they do for this area,” he said.

Robert D. Simpson, former village department chief and a member of the department’s building committee, said the department is weighing its options on how it will reach out to voters.

“In addition to fighting fires and training, and doing those kinds of things, we have to go and fight for this, which is not what we should have to do,” he said.

He said some members have faced heated questions from residents while out in public about the cost of the expansion project.

“It’s very demoralizing to the firefighters that the Planning Board has effectively turned the entire community against the fire department,” Mr. Simpson said. He also said information that he had heard used to oppose the project was incorrect.

One of the lines of opposition he said he had heard was that taxes would go up in future years because of the project, when in fact the village’s financial analyst said that the 6 percent property tax increase already approved should be enough to handle the expansion’s cost without future increases.

Mayor Patricia C. Sweetland did not answer multiple calls from the Times on Friday. However, on Friday afternoon she sent a letter supporting the borrowing for the expansion, and saying that any delays for the project would only lead to a higher price tag for the work.

“The cramped situation at the existing fire garage is unsafe, and does not allow for proper maintenance of vehicles or gear,” she wrote. “The village is fortunate to have the equipment and manpower that we do have — which by the way, allows a very high rating that effects [sic] business and homeowners’ insurance premiums.”

Ms. Sweetland also swiped at Mr. Doe and other Planning Board members opposed to the project, saying they chose to “undermine the trust placed in the elected officials of our village.”

She called on voters to “trust my word” when voting on the project, as it would be the last project for her as mayor, and gave phone numbers where she could be reached to discuss questions about the project.

Ms. Sweetland’s letter can be found at http://wdt.me/pBzFZG.

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