Medford Fire Chief Frank Giliberti appeared before the Medford City Council last night, but that wasn't enough to persuade the council to approve $53,000 to fund a preliminary study on renovations to the city's six fire stations.
By a vote of 3-3, with one absent member, a motion to approve a transfer of funds from an insurance account to the Fire Department failed last night. The funds would be used to fund a feasibility study, the first phase in renovating the city's fire stations.
Councillors Breanna Lungo-Koehn, Robert Penta and Michael Marks all said they couldn't support the funding, at least for now.
The council should tour all of the city's fire stations and prioritize necessary repairs before approving the funding, Marks said.
"I refuse to sit here and be a rubber stamp," he said.
Marks also said he believed the city needs a capital improvements plan to provide better oversight to facilities maintenance in all municipal buildings.
Prior to the council's regular meeting, Giliberti appeared before the councillors in a committee of the whole meeting, where he told them the needs for all the stations will likely cost millions of dollars, and maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars for only minimal improvements.
Fire captains from the city's stations drafted lists of everything from minor repairs, like replacing door knobs, do major structural issues at stations, Giliberti said.
The station for Engine 5, for example, cannot handle the shifty seasons of New England.
"That building belongs down in a warm climate," Giliberti said.
Lungo-Koehn said she didn't know what Mayor Michael McGlynn planned to do with the feasibility study after it was finished. McGlynn initially submitted the request to transfer the money in mid-November, it was tabled at the time because the council members wanted to speak to Giliberti first. An attempt to remove it from the table by Councillor Paul Camuso failed in early December.
Camuso and Frederick Dello Russo both voiced support to approve the funding on Tuesday night. They both voted in favor of a resolution to approve the funding, along with council President Robert Maiocco.
Robert Penta, the other councillor to vote against the resolution, did not attend the meeting of the whole, but said he couldn't support the proposed transfer of funds because it wasn't specific enough.
"I don’t see how you can vote on something when you don’t even know what buildings you are talking about," Penta said.
Councillor Stephanie Burke did not attend last night's meeting, so the motion to transfer funds was locked in a 3-3-1 vote and failed.