Petition article to accept fire engine fails at Leyden meeting

  • Selectboard Chairman Jeffrey Neipp speaks before about 90 Leyden residents during annual town meeting, held Saturday, May 13, 2017 at Leyden Town Hall. —Recorder Staff/Shelby Ashline

  • Leyden residents, including Virginia Rockwood in the foreground, read the warrant during annual town meeting, held Saturday, May 13, 2017 at Leyden Town Hall. —Recorder Staff/Shelby Ashline

Recorder Staff
Saturday, May 13, 2017

LEYDEN — A debate during Leyden’s annual town meeting Saturday regarding whether the town should accept a fire engine purchased by the Leyden Firefighters Association Inc. ended with a vote to pass over the petition article indefinitely, partially on the grounds of a lack of information.

The association purchased the 1983 engine, Engine 3, in August for $3,900. Association Vice President Brian Pelletier explained the association felt the engine would better fit the needs of the department than its 41-year-old Engine 1.

“It’s a bigger truck, it’s a heavier truck,” Pelletier said. “It holds more water, more personnel, all the equipment we need … We could show up in a full truck with all the equipment that we need (as opposed to two or three vehicles.)”

However, Selectboard Chairman Jeffrey Neipp explained the board advised the association against purchasing the truck when it first came before the board in July.

Neipp said the board has no intentions of getting rid of any of the Fire Department’s four vehicles, leaving no room for a new vehicle. However, Pelletier countered the station once housed five vehicles.

“You’re not going to be able to get up half the driveways in the town,” added Selectman William Glabach, concerned over Engine 3 being two-wheel drive.

As part of an earlier article, that was supported by the Selectboard, the majority of the approximately 90 residents in attendance approved $4,500 in repairs to Engine 1.

“We gave the selectmen the truck they want, I think we should give the firefighters the truck they want,” argued Leyden resident Ken Spatcher. “They’re asking us for some respect and we’re not giving it to them.”

Still, the majority of residents didn’t like the way the situation was handled.

“I don’t like to idea of a pretty much private organization dictating what the town should purchase,” said Leyden resident Peter Tusinski.

“We want to really have the Fire Department, the association and all town departments respect the way we purchase things in this town,” Leyden resident Marie Bartlett said to a round of applause. “The way in which it was done and the lack of information makes it too difficult for the town to support this at this time.”

Even had the article not been indefinitely postponed, Neipp said the town’s lawyer advised the Selectboard has sole discretion over accepting gifts.

The Leyden Firefighters Association’s second petition article, which proposed allowing the association to set up and maintain a training facility at Avery Field, was also postponed indefinitely, following Neipp’s explanation that Avery Field’s deed outlines the property being for recreational purposes.

“You cannot change that, that is the condition on which this field was given to the town,” Tusinski added. “I think it should stay as a recreational facility and a vital resource to the town as it has been.”

Solid Waste District withdrawal

Residents also overwhelmingly voted to withdraw from the Franklin County Solid Waste District with a year’s advance notice, despite the same article being shot down last year.

“This program, we feel, doesn’t really fit into Leyden right now,” said Neipp, explaining most residents bring their trash and recycling to the Greenfield Transfer Station.

Leyden pays approximately $2,300 per year to remain a part of the district, and has been a member for over 20 years, Neipp said.

“I think this is a small amount of money,” argued Lewis Becker, Leyden’s representative to the Franklin County Solid Waste District. “Yes, it’s true that we can go to Greenfield, but I think there’s a lot of people in this town that go to Bernardston, which is supported by the Solid Waste District.”

“I just can’t see that it makes sense any longer,” Leyden resident Thomas Luck disagreed.

Other articles

The town budget of $1.7 million was passed, as was the Pioneer budget of $704,105, despite some residents, such as Elwin Barton, saying they would like to “see something done to reduce what (Leyden is) paying for the school budget” given small student enrollment figures.

Article 27, a petition article which would create a bylaw requiring anyone hunting, trapping or using a hunting dog on private property to carry written consent from the owner, was postponed indefinitely.

“We have no mechanism to police this bylaw,” Neipp said, explaining he would like to see the issue first come before a public hearing.

Article 14, which involved allocating $3,450 to purchase a dispatch software upgrade, was also postponed indefinitely given a lack of information.

Spending articles that passed involve allocating: $62,911 to continue construction on the broadband network; $7,500 to remove the wall of windows at the entrance of Pearl Rhodes Elementary School and replace them with a solid wall, and replace the door and ceiling panels; and $5,800 to replace two Town Hall doors.

A special town meeting held immediately before the annual town meeting also approved transferring $7865.04 cents from the stabilization account to the winter maintenance account to cover a snow and ice deficit.

You can reach Shelby Ashline at: sashline@recorder.com

413-772-0261 ext. 257