Town officials backing fire department merger

OBSERVER Photo by Gregory Bacon Chautauqua Town Board members express support for a merged fire department to cover the hamlets of Dewittville and Hartifeld, and the village of Mayville.

Chautauqua town officials are voicing their support to merge three area fire departments.

During the Chautauqua Town Board meeting, officials passed a handful of resolutions to move the process along to merge the Mayville, Dewittville and Hartfield fire departments.

One resolution was to call for a joint public hearing to take place May 28 at 6 p.m. at the Town Hall meeting room. This is the main hearing where the public is encouraged to voice their opinion.

“You travel five miles and you’re in three separate fire districts. We aren’t pulling our engines with horses anymore. It’s time to make a little bit of a change,” Supervisor Don Emhardt said.

Town Councilman Scott Cummings agreed. “It’s a good change needed in the town. It’s difficult for three departments to operate and for the individuals,” he said.

Along with scheduling the joint public hearing, board members set a public hearing for the dissolution of fire protection districts in the town. That hearing will take place during the next town board meeting, which is set for June 12.

Emhardt said the districts need to be dissolved so they can be under the umbrella of the new district.

Cummings said Hartfield and Dewittville are doing the same thing. The Mayville Village Board is expected to follow suit as well.

Finally, the town board appointed Burl Swanson as a fire commissioner of the new district. Swanson is a commissioner of the Hartfield Fire Department and an active member of the Dewittville Fire Department.

Tentatively, the new joint fire district will have five commissioners. The town board, the Mayville Village Board and each fire department are each expected to appoint a single member. None of the commissioners can be an elected official.

The terms will be for one year and after that each district will elect a fire commissioner with a staggered term length.

All resolutions were unanimously approved.


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