Following a tense special Whitefield Select Board meeting on Thursday, Dec. 28, the board decided a new committee will discuss the future of a Delta Ambulance satellite location in Coopers Mills.
Select board members Keith Sanborn and James Torbert and Coopers Mills Volunteer Fire Department Association members Tim Yorks and Phil Newcombe will sit on the committee, select board members announced at the board’s Tuesday, Jan. 2.
Nearly 40 attendees sat by the evening of Dec. 28 as the Whitefield Select Board spoke about their frustrations with the Coopers Mills Volunteer Fire Department Association in regard to their vote against subleasing space to Delta Ambulance.
Delta Ambulance began their search for a new satellite location in October, following a decision to sell their current property at 10 Cony Road in Augusta.
Delta Ambulance and the fire association have been in discussion for months about the possibility of Churchthe ambulance service subleasing space in the association’s building.
The association voted against subleasing space to Delta Ambulance at its Dec. 14 meeting largely due to the haste the project has moved at, according to association members.
At the Dec. 28 meeting, association members discussed items they would like to have included in the sublease document, such as an escape clause if Delta Ambulance were to face financial difficulties. Select board members said during the Dec. 28 meeting that the conditions the association has decided upon for the sublease agreement are “not fair” to Delta Ambulance or the town of Whitefield.
“I think that this type of ‘demands,’ for lack of a better word, is what raises hesitation with the town and why the town sees that this isn’t necessarily a sure thing. If we make an action next week to get an ambulance up there, I’m still not convinced because of the lack of cooperation, the lack of enthusiasm, the lack of trying to work together,” said select board Vice Chair Seth Bolduc.
Coopers Mills Volunteer Fire Department Association President Brian Huntley said the association is not demanding anything from the town or Delta Ambulance. Despite the majority ruling of the association, Huntley said members have put in many hours of work to try to achieve the goal of a Delta Ambulance satellite location in the fire association’s building.
“We want this to proceed. There may or may not be untenable objections, I don’t know, but until somebody goes through and thinks about how those could be met, either in whole or in part, and explains that to us, then the plurality of members are going to continue to vote against it,” said Huntley. “But, if (the select board) can help us address those issues that we’re concerned about, then, as I said at the beginning of the meeting, I think chances are more likely than not that we’ll be able to get good around it enough to get a majority vote to support it.”
The committee will meet Thursday, Jan. 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the Coopers Mills Volunteer Fire Department. The meeting is not open to the public.
The committee will talk through the association’s hesitancies about subleasing space to Delta Ambulance. The goal of the committee is to draft a conditional sublease that the association can vote on at its next meeting on Monday, Jan. 8.
Town attorney Mary Denison, of Winthrop-based firm Lake and Denison LLP, will write the official sublease agreement, according to the select board.
The next meeting of the select board is Tuesday, Jan. 16 at 6 p.m. at Whitefield fire station.