Childs questions insurance settlement on former police home

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Council has already decided to move operations to old town hall

Amherst town council candidate Ed Childs says the town was too quick to accept an insurance settlement on the police department's former home on Victoria Street.

AMHERST – The apparent need of the current town council to spend money on a new town hall while the needs of the town's police service remain “unmet and second rate” in the wake of a fire that destroyed the department's quarters is highly questionable, council candidate Ed Childs has charged.

Childs, a former town manager, said in a news release he suspects the mayor and council rushed to accept an insurance settlement on the destroyed structure because they have already decided to move the police to the old town hall and didn't want a renovated building.

“I assume the reasoning is that the building was fit to be renovated, the insurer was offering more than the value of a renovated building because they have made a decision to move the police to Ratchford Street, and this removes what's known as a stranded asset,” Childs said.

He said that scenario brings to mind a number of questions, including whether the amounts given by the adjusters and insurer were verified by the town; whether the building was insured for replacement value; whether it was unsafe because the adjoining wall was damaged by heat; and whether there was insurance coverage for the costs of temporary quarters and relocation?

“The right answers to these questions could save town taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said.

Childs also said he expects the mayor and council to provide police facilities “that fully meet today's standards and can be easily adapted for future needs.”

The former town manager said a police building is an extremely specialized structure that must be built according to specific requirements, a process that doesn't lend itself to an existing building that must be renovated.

“The idea of putting the police in an old, renovated building and splitting their operations between two buildings is an untenable solution,” Childs said, terming it “an expensive, short-term solution to a problem that will never be functionally efficient.”

He said the town's police department is composed of professional and competent officers who work under difficult circumstances at the best of times.

 “To try to provide them with what will always be makeshift quarters is shameful,” the candidate admonished.

He said forcing employees who are responsible for residents' safety and well-being  “isn't acceptable to me, and it shouldn't be acceptable to any responsible citizen.




Geographic location: Ratchford Street

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Recent comments

  • Emfassis
    September 19, 2012 - 09:09

    This is pretty good politiking by Mr. Childs, sounding as if he is making a firm stand on an issue but not actually saying anything of substance. The Town does not need another retired old man on Council.

  • anomymous
    September 14, 2012 - 07:13

    Mr child's may be right. Taking the money and run, is probably not the best option. $550.000 does not seem to be alot of money, especially if the town has to pay for demolition of the damaged premises. Replace with a new building, with a view to future needs is probably better.

  • Concerned
    September 14, 2012 - 07:12

    Mr. Childs has extremely valid points. IMO It appears the Town is being run like a Ma and Pa country store with planning taking place at the level of 'just to get by' and very little if any consideration on functional, practical and effective long term planning - solutions not quick fixes. The Police require a purpose built facility, the building they were 'housed' in was stop-gap, where they currently are is stop-gap, housing the Police in the Library is stop-gap and, trying to convert the current Town Hall for housing the Police is still stop-gap. Council is not saving a single penny by any of this and the results will eventually be felt by the citizens of Amherst in reduced effectiveness of Policing as the officers need to spend more and more time dealing with make-do offices, parking, wash-rooms, locker rooms, building security, building access and therefore less time actually Policing. Council needs to understand that you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

  • bill
    September 13, 2012 - 22:20

    mr childs you are only one person speaking for the whole town people should vote on these changes not just one man or the police force public in put should rule out these changes along with the mayor and counsel this is where these town have problems

  • Elsie
    September 13, 2012 - 19:14

    The police department was moved to that storefront and have been requesting proper facilities for the past twelve years - while you were CAO. And ignored their repeated requests. Since you have all the insurance questions, whose name is on the initial insurance contract that may or may not have replacement value and temporary quarters included. You will not have my vote and hopefully others will see right through