Do you ever wonder whether your elected officials are listening to you and the voters who sent them to Washington or Madison? We all do at times, over one issue or several.
But it’s often different with local government, where you can attend and speak at meetings and reach out to officials in your own community. You may disagree with the outcome but you were heard.
A great example of this and one that shows citizen government is alive and well has been taking place in Wheatland, where reaction to a needed new firehouse plan has brought feedback and led to changes that are ongoing.
If you’ve been following our reports you know that the issue is not that the firehouse is important, it’s the cost and scope that concern residents and officials who have heard from them.
Town Chairman William Glembocki said his “phone’s been blowing up” since the $3.8 million plan was presented late last month. “They are not saying we don’t need a new firehouse,” he said. “They are just saying we need to get the cost down.”
Supervisor Andy Lois said he too heard from residents with concerns about the project cost and that it was moving “way too fast.”
At issue is a plan, as presented, that includes eight bays, a 64-seat training room, a kitchen, a locker room for turnout gear, showers, and a day room and sleeping quarters.
It’s actually as a scaled-down version of a plan presented a year ago. That plan included a new Village Hall and had a price tag that topped $5.4 million.
Fire Chief Lou Denko called the new plan “an honest, lean plan for what we need.”
However, Glembocki suggested reducing the number of bays and possibly eliminating the multi-purpose space. “I just don’t see the growth in Wheatland that they have in Pleasant Prairie, Somers. ... Salem Lakes,” Glembocki said. “I just think we need to wind this back a little bit.”
The Wheatland Town Board sent the proposal back to committee Monday with a request that it knock down the $3.8 million price tag.
Supervisor Kelly Wilson, the board representative on the committee, said informational meetings would allow the fire department to explain its needs and help the board understand what the community is willing to support. She said consideration should also be given to the fact the project would “cost more down the road.”
The way this is going, the community will have its say toward a new firehouse that Wheatland will be proud of. And this is the way it should be.