No decision made on fire protection issue, but leaders like direction.
It was an unfamiliar moment of optimism in Macedon last Tuesday: watching the town and village governments sitting down together in the first run in a series of roundtable discussions to resolve a long-standing feud between the municipalities.
Following a contentious public hearing over the town’s desire to reorganize fire protection contract in mid-March, the town and village board members agreed to publicly talk it out at the request of many residents demanding Macedon’s town and village leadership move forward once and for all. Held in a packed cafeteria at the Palmyra-Macedon Intermediate School on Tuesday, April 9, many familiar faces from March’s fire protection public hearing were present — from young families to firefighters (who all filed out to answer a call mid-meeting).
Town and village leadership focused on fire protection for over two hours at this session, where Hammond proposed four alternatives to the original plan to discontinue contracting with Macedon Village Fire Department in favor of expanding Macedon Center’s fire district in 2014, a move many in the community saw as an attack on the village government.
As the municipalities were guided through the evening by the calming presence of former town tax collector James Forshay, it appeared that a direct conversation was what was needed all along. Rumors and a lack of factual information proved to be the culprit of many misunderstandings stemming from recent conflicts including fire protection, as well as sewer and ambulance services.
Forshay expressed optimism that the first steps towards a better relationship between the often-warring municipalities were made. And Town Supervisor Bill Hammond said there are legitimate issues with how fire protection is delivered.
“I think everyone has a better understanding of what the town’s concerns were – that the people in the town need representation,” said Hammond. “It’s been a long time since anyone has really taken a look at (Macedon’s fire protection). I think everyone thought Macedon and Macedon Center fire departments were one district, and many better understand where we are coming from.”
Macedon Fire Chief Tim Wilcox was also pleased with the progress made on Tuesday.
“I think if they continue with this – throwing out proposals, listening to the good and the bad points of each one of them, give-and-take, and learn, hopefully they’ll work together to come up with a good contract that everyone can agree on.”
This meeting’s format, however, did not allow for public input as much of it was previously shared in March.
“In the future there will hopefully be public input,” said Mayor Marie Cramer. “When we move on to another subject I think it’s important, even if it’s the last 15 minutes, the public should have the opportunity to ask questions.”
Cramer expected when she took office to endure some of the leftover flack from former mayor Jim Hoteling, who bickered often with the town government. But she never thought it would escalate to the point where the town was ready to drop the village fire department.
Page 2 of 2 - “I don’t want it to interfere with the day-to-day business that the village needs, but if I have to put in some more hours it’s worth it. I’m not going to lose track of the goal and vision of the village that have been set by the people.”
As of press time, the town and village are arranging a second date to continue the mediation process.