Don’t sit on the sidelines

Earlier this year I called for full community participation to help decide what the future will hold for police and fire facilities in Marshalltown.

And in March, the community did just that. Great numbers of you attended the police and fire advisory committee’s open houses where you shared your thoughts about the seven sites under consideration to build a new public safety facility.

Through that process, as well as continued research, the committee and now the city council, have selected the former EconoFoods site as the possible home to a new joint police and fire building.

But there is plenty left to do and time is short, if indeed the city wants to move forward with a possible bond election in August.

First, the city must deem if the site will be suitable and what items would need to be addressed if the property is acquired. Let’s be clear, there should be no rush if an upcoming environmental analysis of the property alerts the city to any issues that must be accommodated.

Second, what’s it going to cost and is there 60 percent voter support that will make it a reality? Last year’s bond issue to build a new police facility at the former Crosby pool site along South Sixth Street was soundly defeated. Along with concerns about location and cost, some voters argued the selection and the bond election was rushed and that there was an overall lack of transparency and information.

This time around, it appears the process has been more thorough and transparent – now it’s just a matter of “selling” this idea to voters, educating them to the needs of both the police and fire departments.

Finally, there’s you.

First there will be a whole host of building tours of the existing police and fire facilities scheduled (see information to the right). It’s a chance for those of you who haven’t seen either of the departments to get a good look at the current state of those facilities.

And then on Wednesday and Thursday, May 25-26 (times TBA), there will be three different “open houses” at Fisher Community Center, where Marshalltown residents can learn more about the merits of building a new facility at the EconoFoods site.

Those open houses are critical – it’s a chance to learn more about the overall proposal, the cost, the impact it will have on the city. It’s also a great opportunity for everyone in Marshalltown to ask questions, share their thoughts and concerns about the future of policing and firefighting in our community.

This is key. As I noted before in my column in February, if there is full participation by the community, perhaps Marshalltown residents can rally around a single idea as to what will work best and what will garner 60 percent voter support.

All of us who live in Marshalltown should have a vested interest in the safety and protection of our friends, families and neighbors

Don’t let the future of policing and firefighting be left to just a few. Be engaged and let’s find a positive solution that will work for Marshalltown!

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Contact Jeff Hutton at 641-753-6611 or jhutton@timesrepublican.com