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Erving-Northfield ambulance talks at an end

ERVING — The Board of Selectmen closed the book on discussion of combining ambulance service in some way with Northfield, citing an apparent lack of interest from their Northfield counterparts.

The Erving board had earlier expressed interest in using the Northfield emergency medical service’s desire to grow as an opportunity to invest town money with a higher potential for return than the low interest town money earns as savings.

Chairman Eugene Klepadlo said due to the way the Northfield service is set up, it can’t be a revenue generating investment because the enterprise fund it runs on can only pay out over the first two years of an investment.

During the initial discussion in June, selectmen and the fire chief said they were satisfied with the town’s current coverage from Baystate Health Ambulance.

At their Dec. 17 meeting, the selectmen opted to drop the discussion with Northfield.

Selectman Andrew Goodwin said the Northfield Selectboard is clearly not in support of the effort.

“My opinion is they’re just going their merry way,” he said.

“So at this point I would say talks with Northfield, the whole issue, is probably dead, as far as we’re concerned,” Klepadlo said.

Klepadlo instructed the Erving town administrator to draft a letter to the Northfield Selectboard to the effect that the board has elected to pursue other options.

Goodwin said the town should prioritize its various projects before returning to the EMS idea.

The selectmen agreed to look into exploring other options at some point in the future.

Northfield reaction

Northfied Emergency Medical Service Chief Mark Fortier said he was disappointed by the decision to walk away from the table.

“I’m disappointed we couldn’t continue the discussion to see what the benefits would have been for both communities,” Fortier said.

Fortier said the potential organization had more than profit-generating value, but the current funding system preventing profit could have been changed.

Fortier said the idea was a long way away from a concrete proposal, but he believed the Northfield Selectboard members were open to discussion.

“I don’t think we were to the point where anybody had a decision. I think everybody was still open-minded, it was just a matter of having some discussions about what we could possibly do,” Fortier said.

Fortier said the towns had been in the process of coming up with a mission statement for a joint committee to examine the possibilities.

Fortier had suggested Gill and Bernardston be invited to the table, but talk of their involvement was blown out of proportion and only Erving was actually in discussions, according to Fortier.

Northfield Selectboard member Jack Spanbauer said Monday he had not heard of the Erving decision.

Spanbauer said it had been his concern at a recent meeting that under the enterprise fund regulations, it would not be possible to meet the Erving board’s requirements.

Spanbauer said nothing had been off the table because the table had not yet been set.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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