May 25, 2022

Essex Town Meeting Approves Funding for Emergency Purchases – Date set for Emergency Management Center Move

ESSEX— Voters at a town meeting Wednesday quickly approved a $32,528 special appropriation to purchase various emergency management items that were lacking during the response to Tropical Storm Irene on Aug. 28.

About 30 residents, many of them volunteer firefighters, turned out to approve the special appropriation on a unanimous voice vote. Many of the items are radio communications equipment, along with various signs. Emergency Management Director William Buckridge said the new radios would provide additional frequencies, and coverage in all sections of towns. The radios would remain operational even when cellular communications towers are knocked out of service.

The list of needed items was developed after town emergency services personnel reviewed the local response to the tropical storm last August. First Selectman Norman Needleman said town emergency responders were “looking at Irene as a fire drill for a worse event.”

Needleman said the funding approved Wednesday is the first of three funding requests intended to upgrade the town’s emergency management operations. The second step is a relocation of the town emergency management center from a damp ground floor room at town hall to the former judge of probate office on the west side of the building.

Meeting after the close of the town meeting, the board of selectmen scheduled a Jan. 4 public hearing and town meeting vote on a proposed $38,000 special appropriation to pay for relocation of the EOC. The expenditure was approved by the board of finance last week. The total cost of the EOC relocation is $71,880. The town’s insurance carrier has agreed to cover about $34,000 of the expense for damage and water problems at town hall related to the tropical storm.

The public hearing on the EOC relocation expenditure is set for Jan. 4 at 6:30 p.m. in town hall. A town meeting vote on approving the expenditure will follow at 7:30 p.m. Needleman said a third and final funding request for emergency management upgrades would be discussed by the board of selectmen in January.