Editorial, New fire barn: A good idea, but too early

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 4:52pm

The idea proposed last week about building a new $3 million fire barn here on the island was certainly worth floating. But if it was indeed a trial balloon then we say that it should drift away gracefully and return only when some other, more urgent, needs have been met.

The proposal, which was made at a recent monthly meeting of the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, is a hard one to criticize. In fact, saying that it’s not a good time to think about this kind of expenditure is not the same thing as saying it’s a bad idea. The suggestion that the fire barn can be used for other community uses is also a good one; but the current barn works just fine on Bingo night.

But there have been recent moves by the Town Council and the Chamber of Commerce that are designed to address some long-standing needs of the town — needs that supercede and predate a new fire barn.

The Council has created an Infrastructure Committee that will look into the condition of the town’s physical assets, and an extensive punch list of public works, administrative, financial and policy initiatives has been created to wade through some of the more pressing issues facing New Shoreham. These items range from physical improvements to public parking spaces to technological initiatives, such as having the ability to Skype from Town Hall. These are all ideas seeking a more immediate solution.

The Chamber has created three subcommittees that will look into the cost of electricity, internet connectivity and tourism services on the island. These efforts, as is the effort of the Town Council, are in the nascent stage. But they are an important beginning.

Everyone on the island appreciates the hard work done by members of the Fire and Rescue Department. Even putting it that way seems to diminish their role. Their importance can simply not be overstated or praised enough.

But everything has its time and place, and the time for a new fire barn here on Block Island has not yet arrived.