LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Regional Dispatch Center: Unsafe & Bad For Manchester


To the Editor,

Raise Your Hand...

...one of the more important things to you about living in Manchester is your sense of safety: safety of your home, your children, and the peace of mind that comes from knowing your Police Department is available to you 24/7 in person at the station, or with a phone call.

Raise your hand if, of all the ways the Town spends your tax dollars, you’d like to ensure one of the priority expenditures is Police and Fire protection.

Raise your hand if, given the Town has a reserve fund in the neighborhood of six million dollars, you’d like YOUR tax dollars spent updating our Police and Fire dispatch services to the level our chiefs have identified, rather than farming out those services to a remote center in Middleton, run by the State. In keeping with its desperate effort to regionalize us, the State has offered this service “Free” for 10 years.

Raise your hand if you believe in a “Free Lunch”.

In his last letter, Town Administrator Federspiel made the case that you’d like more debate on this topic. He’s suggested you might prefer… "the best available service for the lowest cost”.  The theory is we could save as much as $ 2 million over 10 years by signing up.  The problem with this offer is that he doesn’t have a better or “best" option.  He has a previously failed, sued, now revamped center that only 5 out of 13 targeted communities have elected to join, and will leave our Police Station dark for the graveyard shift.  I don’t see this bargain as worthy or consistent with the quality of life we want here. 

The Board of Selectmen have had their hands full with 40B, with COVID and a myriad of tree decisions.  I'd like to save them some time, and have placed on the Annual Town Meeting (ATM) warrant a petition that will give you the opportunity to express your preference for keeping our Police and Fire dispatch services local or not.  It is non-binding, but it will give them a much better read than grueling “Public Forum” ZOOM meetings, where a handful of residents get to ask one question.

Sheila Hill, Manchester