By Adam Aasen
A $3 million proposal for a countywide training center for police and fire departments was voted down recently by the Hamilton County Council.
Some members of the Carmel City Council supported the idea of the training center, including some who were endorsed by Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard in the recent election. But Brainard himself did not express disappointment with the vote. He said there’s no rush to build a training center.
“I tend to look at things in a positive way that the fire tower was approved by the County Council,” he said. “That’s a start. It’s not the full training center. The council appears to want to do it in steps and that’s a good step.”
The County Council voted to approve $568,000 to build the fire tower, which was a part of the project. Brainard said it’s an important step, but noted that Carmel already has a firing range for police and a burn training facility for firefighters.
“Carmel is in bit of different situation than the other municipalities and that we do have some training facilities and some of them don’t,” he said.
Carmel City Councilor Eric Seidensticker praised the County Council for showing fiscal responsibility. He said it’s unfair to paint anyone as against police or firefighter training.
“I think they made a wise move,” he said. “This isn’t about whether the training center would be a good thing. We all want the best training for our people but you have to look at the cost and who’s paying for it.”
Seidensticker noted that there are other training centers nearby where police and firefighters can train. Proponents of the new training center argued that traveling takes them out of service for too long.
Brainard said he doesn’t see the proposed center as “dead” but that the fire tower is the first step.
“This has been talked about for twenty years and I’m sure it will continue to be talked about,” he said. “Once the fire tower is built I’m sure they will talk about what is the next step.”
County Councilor Fred Glynn said he doesn’t want that much to be read into funding the fire tower, saying that they funded it “as a one-time gesture, nothing more.”
“The fire tower was put forth because that is what every single person said was the biggest thing they needed,” Glynn stated in a commentary to Current. “It may have been a mistake because the very people we were trying to help and others are trying to spin it and use it against us to score cheap political points. I have one individual who is respected by people from all political stripes who sent me this note: ‘Fred, no good deed goes unpunished. They are not grateful for the tower but indignant. You keep that in mind the next time you are considering extending a ‘neighborly branch’. There is some validity to this statement. Some of the people who will benefit by having this tower are showing absolutely no respect for taxpayer dollars. I will definitely have to keep that in mind when making future decisions. My job is to scrutinize every spending proposal on behalf of taxpayers. This event will only strengthen my resolve.”