In Westport, the town is paying for numerous infractions at the town highway garage, which was described by town supervisor Daniel Connell as a facility that is obsolete even if it is brought into compliance with state regulations. Town officials are also looking to renovate their current home, known as the WADA Building, and members of the fire department continue to work in what they describe as an obsolete building.
Voters balked at a proposed multi-use facility last summer, and the trickle of violations at these run down, obsolete facilties will cost thousands in repairs and fines. This tidal wave of expenses is already starting to be felt. Instead of being proactive when it came to the chance to update infrastructure, the voters of the town chose instead to delay the inevitable in the hopes that a cheaper alternative could be found.
The lack of forward thinking by these voters is now going to cost even more in the long run, while community needs remain unmet. We are urging Elizabethtown voters to not make the same mistake.
A highly functioning infrastructure also helps with the image of a town and the self esteem of its residents. People can take pride in the fact that they have resources that work and provide an avenue for improvement, instead of always hearing about Department of Environmental Conservation Consent Orders that come with lofty fines.
At the same time, there are also cases in which too much infrastructure was put in place, and redundancy exists. For example, Keeseville is considering dissolving its village government and merging it with the towns of Chesterfield and Ausable.
If such a consolidation can save taxpayers the cost of occupying a village hall or village highway garage, than it is certainly worth exploring.
That savings can then be reinvested in the remaining infrastructure, ensuring the two towns do not find themselves in a situation like Westport.
Ultimately it is up to town leaders to have the foresight to offer plans that will benefit the community in the most cost effective way to taxpayers for years to come.
That’s what is on the drawing table in Elizabethtown. Without it, our municipalities will continue to dwindle in numbers as businesses evaporate forcing residents to seek employment elsewhere.