Water Bond

by Dan Allie, At Large City Councilor

The Council passed a 5 million dollar bond 15 months ago, and some Councilors are trying to offer alternatives that would provide an ample supply of safe drinking water to the entire City without any delay, protect Wells 1 and 2 from the Air Force possibly refusing to reimburse the City, while filtering the water by the end of July.  Sometime in May, the 13 million dollar bond would likely have the 9 votes required to pass, and all the important work is moving forward. So what is the rush?

I am very disappointed that some councilors and city leadership are not interested in exploring other options. Despite a request for cooperation, only a single motion by Councilors Emmershy, Surprise and myself passed City Council to have the Finance Committee review water production costs and options that the City can make, and make recommendations. A motion on having Finance discuss an alternative bond was rejected. Also rejected were attempts to pursue an interim remedial action from the Air National Guard Bureau that oversees the program and funding.

Local government is sometimes like watching a car wreck in slow motion. Everyone knows what is going to happen, but it seems almost impossible to stop. The people of Westfield and some councilors are treated like petulant children when we dare to question what is going on, or demand more from our elected and government officials.

Councilor Bean and i both asked for executive session when this first came before Council. The answer was no. If the City was concerned about leaks that could threaten the lawsuits, the Law Department simply could decide what information should not be shared with Councilors. I think most councilor would have trusted that advice. In the end, the Law Department was able to come before Council and provide some answers.

Why can’t some Councilors trust those willing to do the hard work of researching other options, especially given Westfield’s status under new state standards that have not been issued yet? I would like to commend Councilors Surprise, Emmershy and Flaherty for their courage and perseverance on this important issue. I feel like I let them down while seeking cooperation from other Councilors. Some of us are looking at all options, actually thinking outside the box and willing to engage the people, and demand action from all our government entities who have an duty to serve and protect us.

Had it not been for volunteers willing to record and edit the video the Mayor’s meeting last year on the water issue with the state and Air National Guard . Had it not been for the four councilors not supporting the original vote on the bond, the last two meetings would not have occurred. No one could open a lemonade stand in Westfield with the amount of information presented to Finance committee.

Concerns that almost no information was presented to Finance or Legislative and Ordinance committees were dismissed, as water under the bridge for calls to move forward. As late as this past Tuesday, the Council President and I informed the Mayor that Finance was not even given the timeline of the actions taken by the ANG, DEP and the City. This was the document that the Mayor photocopied and gave to Council during last week’s meeting.

Through all this, i have remained respectful and stayed focused on the issue before us. God knows there is a long list of decisions and actions by city leadership, regional and state government that has cost the people dearly.

To Top