To the Editor:
In 1957 I was eleven years old. The Mattapoisett Fire Station was just six years old. We were both youngsters. Now we are both old. Neither of us can do what we once could. I can’t, for example, run to the fire station if the fire horn were to blow.
In those days whoever spotted a fire would call the police station by telephone and the dispatcher would relay the call, also by phone, to the station where the first person to arrive, after the horn blew, would answer the ringing phone and write where the fire was in chalk on a blackboard by the door. We lived a short distance away and I would sometimes be that person. The firemen would arrive, see the message and be on their way sirens blaring.
Thankfully today our dedicated, on-call firefighters are summoned by modern electronic means. That is about all that is modern at the station house. Like myself, the engines are much larger than they once were and barely fit through the doors to be parked inches between the hoses of one and the ladders on another. There is no place to exhaust toxic fumes generated by idling vehicles and the firefighters carry home toxic substances on their clothing because there are no showers or decontamination facilities thus exposing their families to the same contaminants. Vehicles and other equipment must be stored offsite and there are no adequate restrooms or space for training activities. Health code violations need to be addressed. The deficiencies go on and on. The situation is urgent and the solution will be expensive.
A few blocks away the town wharves need restoration and facilities upgraded and just down the street another situation is calling for a solution. The Old Rochester High School athletic fields and auditorium are in disrepair and need renovation. That eleven year old who ran to the fire station would enter ORR when everything was new, though the tennis courts I played on were built over a swamp and flooded every time it rained … but I digress. Like me and the fire station, the facilities in question at the school are old and tired from overuse.
A private group has put together a plan, supported by the school committee, to alleviate the deficiencies. They are warning that the fields are unsafe and could lead to injuries and cancelations of games and possibly the end of the sports programs. The auditorium lighting and sound systems are apparently antiquated and inefficient and potentially dangerous. The situation is urgent and the solution will be expensive.
As it is with public facilities the solutions will require property tax increases. Difficult choices are in the offing for Mattapoisett voters especially those on fixed incomes or limited means.
Ask yourselves, when the alarm sounds which way would that eleven year old run.
Dick Morgado, Mattapoisett
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