NORTH CREEK - A controversial proposed expansion of Johnsburg Emergency Medical Squad space at the town owned Boy Scout building in Sodom was unanimously struck-down April 7 by a reluctant town board following intense public outcry against the issue.
Johnsburg EMS had petitioned the town board seeking a 12 foot expansion of the squad living space to allow for enlarged sleeping and record storage capacity, according to Johnsburg EMS President Mark Bergman.
"I don't think there is any dispute that space is tight up there," said Johnsburg Supervisor Sterling Goodspeed. "We received so many comments from the public objecting to the proposal that we have to look closely at this."
The issue had been tabled by the town board for over a month, allowing the town to assess public sentiment.
At previous meetings dozens of angry citizens blasted the EMS proposal, stating the building was public space, often used for private parties and gatherings at no-cost to town residents.
The April 7 meeting featured a similar vibe, including four letters addressed to the town - all of which opposed the expansion.
"What sticks out to me is the sense of entitlement here," Bergman said. "Why does the town need to support private parties?"
Bergman said that the expansion would be a key tool in recruiting more squad volunteers, therefore reducing expenses by limiting the amount of hours the paid squad-members work.
Currently, there are seven paid squad members and 31 volunteers, Bergman said.
"It concerns me that the town favors parties over emergency medical service," Bergman said. "We ask a lot of our volunteers and we should at least provide a warm and comfortable space."
Bergman's assessment resulted in rebuttal from town board members.
"The fact that this town has a couple of buildings for residents to use free of charge is something to be proud of," Councilman Ron Vanselow said. "These aren't just parties, these are celebrations of milestones."