Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Bloomington Township Board meeting

I attended the Bloomington Township Board meeting last night. The first action item on the agenda was a request from the township Fire Department to authorize a "burn building". The building is estimated at $325,000 and can be used indefinitely. It also will provide the BT Fire Department with the ability to provide a large variety of scenarios for training purposes.

One advantage of the training facility is that it will be used not only to train firefighters in Bloomington Township, but that many of the other township fire departments will be using the facility to train their personnel as well. The city of Bloomington, however, decided not to cooperate and will be building their own facility. This clearly is not a partisan issue as both township government (all five elected officials are Democrats) and city government (nine of eleven elected officials are Democrats) are dominated by one party. I find it unfortunate that the Democrats were unable to work together on a project that will benefit the entire county.

In the past, fire departments have been able to burn down old houses for training purposes. One reason that Bloomington Township is moving to a "burn building" is that it is safer for the firefighters. The fire can be set in a controlled environment that is much less likely to result in serious injury or death. In addition, burning old houses has detrimental effects on the environment that are mitigated by a "burn building". People at the meeting said the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) places so many restrictions on using old homes for training purposes that it makes sense to move to a "burn building".

It makes a great deal of sense to move forward with the "burn building". It has been in the works for several years and the township has developed a plan to spread the cost over two budgets and keep the amount of debt from the building to a minimum. If I were on the Bloomington Township Board (and I hope to be elected to a spot on the board in November) I would have enthusiastically supported the proposal. As I said above, I am disappointed that the city is not on board and would work to make this a county-wide training facility.

The next item on the agenda was implementing more rules for the township homeless shelter. It was suggested that pets be barred from the premises. Board member Bill Sturbaum was concerned about the new rules and wondered where the pets would go, but trustee Nancy Brinegar explained that the rules can be relaxed on a case-by-case basis but need to be there to protect the township from damages caused by pets. There were other proposals for not allowing visitors and forbidding the use of illegal drugs.

The Township Board also discussed personnel guidelines, but I had to leave the meeting before it got to that point. As a candidate for elective office, I think it is important for me to attend these meetings so I can be better informed and have less of a learning curve if I am fortunate enough to have the voters put their trust in me on November 7.