LETTER: NW Greenwich Fire Station Up for Debate…Really?

Letter to the editor from Rachel Khanna, RTM member District 10

As the RTM begins its discussions around the 2019-2020 budget —specifically those around the Northwest Greenwich Fire Station— I keep thinking about when my family and I moved to Greenwich nearly 20 years ago. The excellent school system made Greenwich more desirable than the neighboring towns. We were, after all, coming with three young children and wanted to ensure that they would have the best resources available and that they, too, might one day choose Greenwich as their home later in life. When we moved to Greenwich, we took it for granted that we would have adequate fire protection no matter where we ultimately decided to move within Greenwich.

I find the current debate about the need for a fire station in Northwest Greenwich disheartening. The First Selectman and the Greenwich Fire Department have confirmed the need for a fire station in Northwest Greenwich and yet some members of the RTM continue to question their findings, arguing instead for more studies (many of which have already been done). Interestingly, these same opponents called themselves fiscal conservatives. It is not fiscally conservative to defer maintenance on critical projects – the more we wait, the more expensive these projects get. Moreover, the more we wait, the more we put human lives at risk, and face potential legal liability —be it for a fire station, or other necessary town improvements.

We worry about tax and mill rate increases but fail to consider that if we don’t address issues such as adequate fire coverage or schools that meet ADA requirements then people won’t want to move to Greenwich to begin with, regardless of how low our mill rate is.

We have lived in Northwest Greenwich for nearly 15 years and are under strict instructions from our children to never sell the house.

Last Thursday, our smoke alarm accidentally went off. It took a truck from Glenville 9 minutes to reach our home (4 minutes is the nationally recommended time). Fortunately, our three oldest children are away at college and our youngest was on a school field trip.

Our dogs and cats are all agile enough to run outside, save for our 14-year old Lab who runs and hides in the furthest corner of an upstairs bathroom when the alarm goes off or it thunders. She would probably have lost her life if we had had a real fire.

We would also have lost 15 years’ worth of memories made and saved in the house. For a fiscally conservative town, it seems reckless to keep “kicking the can” down the road on
critical town improvements in the hope that these issues will resolve themselves. It’s time to think about —and do what is best for— the town of Greenwich and its future generations.

– Rachel Khanna is a Greenwich resident and RTM member in District 10