AMHERST – Amherst did not rush into accepting a settlement offer on the Amherst Police Department’s office damaged by a major downtown fire several weeks ago, says mayor Robert Small.
“The decision was based on careful evaluation and negotiation by town staff,” Small said. “Staff presented council with a recommendation that considered all the factors which included current value, project value after remediation, the cost of remediation and the current and future use for the property – including policing services. Council weighed the pros and cons and unanimously agreed with the staff recommendation that the best deal for the taxpayers was accepting the $550,000 settlement and earmarking it for future policing needs.”
On Thursday, council candidate and former town manager Ed Childs charged the town is focused on spending money on a new town hall while the needs of the police remain “unmet and second rate” following the fire.
Childs suggested the town rushed to accept the settlement offer because it has already decided to move the police the Confederation Memorial Building on Ratchford Street and didn’t want a renovated building.
The mayor said council is very supportive of the police department’s operational needs.
“In the coming weeks and months council will make a decision the next steps forward to meet the operational needs of the police department and balance out with fiscal responsibility for overall town operations,” the mayor said.
Small said staff were careful with their evaluation of the offer from the insurer of the downtown property that was evacuated soon after the fire began in the neighbouring Black and Windsor Block buildings.