After reading the article in The Post-Journal, I feel compelled to write to express my strong disagreement with Mike Gleason's position on this subject. There is a very real need for the fire department to have a physical presence in Ashville, the major population center in the district.
The district is very geographically spread out, so some years ago a second station was added in Stow to have a presence at that end of the district, particularly in the summer time when the population increases with summer residents and visitors. This made sense, but was bitterly argued within the department and many people did not want to spend money to purchase the land.
That argument was settled when farmer Phil Morton donated land for the building. This arrangement worked well for decades.
Now the entire shebang has been moved to Stow and away from the year-round population center. The district boundaries have not changed. Ashville is still the most concentrated population center.
If it was needed to have emergency equipment at both ends of the district then, it is needed now. A few minutes difference in response time can mean the difference between life and death in some situations - or the difference between a damaged home and a destroyed home.
With all due respect to Mike Gleason, the commissioners acted properly and legally. The rush was because they only found out two days before the deadline that the building was available. The money is already on hand and therefore does not need to go up for a district-wide vote. Also the Fire District is the governing body, not the department.
There is currently a petition being circulated seeking resident signatures supporting re-establishing a fire department presence in the Ashville area. I believe it had been out less than one day. I signed it last evening and there were already many more than 10 signatures. I ask the Chautauqua County Legislature please to consider the welfare and safety of the Ashville Fire District residents when they make their decision and to vote to sell the former county Parks Department building to the Ashville Fire District."
I would also like to encourage residents to sign the petition.
Thea Kester is a resident of the Ashville Fire District.