An attempt by Kim Cates, president of the Turkey Creek Fire Territory Board, to improve communication between the fire territory board and the Syracuse Town Council ended as an exercise in frustration. Cates sent a three-page memo and a 19-page timeline regarding the fire station renovation to the council prior to its monthly meeting Sept. 17.
The memo focused on a meeting between herself, town councilman Larry Siegel and town manager Henry DeJulia regarding communication between the two boards. The timeline highlighted how the fire territory board researched the options before deciding to renovate Fire Station No. 1. Cates was out of town last week when the town council met, but had the packets dropped off at the clerk-treasurer’s office. Due to an oversight, the packets were delivered to council members Tuesday night, after the council meeting.
Cates stated she, Syracuse Fire Chief Mickey Scott and President of the Turkey Creek Township advisors Dennis Darr, spent hours pulling together meeting minutes from the fire territory board, township advisory board and town council.
“As the current Turkey Creek Fire Territory Board president, I feel that any person who is interested in discussing the fire (department) territory should have access to all public information, and I wanted to be instrumental in creating a more harmonious working relationship between the entities.
“In this meeting we spoke for several hours about past issues, the budget and also Fire Station No. 1 remodel,” she said in her memo.
After learning her memo and timeline did not reach the council prior to it voting to approve the fire station renovation, Cates expressed frustration at the situation. “They (the council) cannot continue to say there is no communication,” she said.
Her biggest concern is “if council members aren’t feeling they’re getting ‘the guts’ of a situation, they don’t call Dennis Darr (president of the Turkey Creek Township Advisory Board) or me and ask for it,” she said.
She pointed out there have been hundreds of hours of research and several years of work into making a decision about Fire Station No. 1. The timeline points out that discussion began in March 2010. She said both Siegel and DeJulia asked her when and how the fire territory came to its conclusions.
She also said taxes for the fire station renovation have already been collected – $325,500 in 2011, $400,000 in 2012 and $120,000 in 2013 – for a total amount of $845,500.
Bill Musser, Syracuse Town Council president, said Siegel asked Cates to go back through the minutes and provide the council with information. “The poor girl went through all those minutes and made a packet for council members,” he said, adding it was an oversight council members didn’t get the packet until after the meeting.
“My feelings … I felt very bad for the people who were asked to come to the meeting under the misrepresentation of Mr. Siegel,” Musser said. He intends to send letters of apology to those who came to the meeting to speak about the fire station renovation. He has also told the council it needs to be more in touch with the fire territory board or fire chief if there are questions.
Seigel said he had not had time to digest all the information in the report. He said he would be willing to respond after he’s had a chance to review all of the material.