UPDATE: After a very thoughtful, detailed, and careful discussion, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to proceed with the project, pass a bond ordinance, and award bids. I couldn’t be happier. Thank you Board, staff, and citizens!
Tonight, the Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors is voting on a major investment, a $6+ million investment in a Public Works Facility that has been designed to LEED Gold standards. The Township’s current facilities are out of date, in poor condition, and out of touch with the needed direction on environment and sustainability. It is my sincere conviction that the Board will accept the bid and move into construction. Here are my remarks to the Board tonight.
Mr. Chair, members of the Board, staff, and citizens,
My name is Peter Buckland. I live in Houserville in College Township. As many here know, I used to serve on the Ferguson Board before moving this summer. Congratulations to those who won re-election and my gratitude to Mr. Stryker for stepping up and serving for last half of 2019.
I am here to urge you to vote “YES” on the Public Works facility. This project embodies the values of the board, the will of the citizens of Ferguson Township, and it will stand as a symbol of Ferguson’s leadership on innovation, health, and environmental stewardship. Over the last nearly four years, this Board has adopted resolutions and ordinances that are working social, economic, organizational, and environmental sustainability. This is an investment in service to the Township, an investment the Board unanimously agreed to when it submitted Basis of Design document over two years ago. In that document, the Board agreed that this facility should exceed health standards and “make people feel fresh, alive, and want to smile,” that its materials would be sourced with health in mind, that it worked as much with the land as possible, relieving our aquifer of stresses through onsite BMPs and using site- and region-specific plants, and that finally, it work in a very tangible way toward the Net Zero Greenhouse Gas emissions goal. Given the results of the last election, I would say that the Board’s work on climate and sustainability—in policy such as the Climate Resolution, in community programming support such as the Pine Grove Mills Farmer’s Market, and work through the COG—has been among its chief successes and will continue to be.
As Mr. Endresen and Pribulka have made clear, the township is on very solid financial footing. You have an ample fund balance, have not raised taxes for several years and will have no reason to because you have a good tax base, and now—as the public may not know—the Township has a AAA bond rating. I know that you have had in-depth, responsive, and responsible discussions over the last couple of years and have continued to do so since I left. Deciding to invest in a $6+ million project is no light task and I applaud Board members for taking the cost seriously. Given the current labor market and inflated costs in materials, this building has come in over budget. There is, as Mr. Pribulka has said, little to lead us to believe that scrapping the current design and putting together a less ambitious, less healthy, less environmentally sensible, and more hum-drum place for the Township’s staff to work will yield a building that is better for the township in the long-run. You have a great building design before you.
Last month, high school and college students from this township, the Region, and across the state joined the global climate strike. In concert with youth from around the world, they called on their elders—you and me—to act on climate change, something this Board voted to take on through Resolution 2017-14. Earlier this month, your voters overwhelmingly supported a Board with stated commitments to citizen health, protection of the watershed, sustainability, and to account for growth in the Township and the Region. The Public Works facilities and your employees need better facilities. Growth in the area demands improved and increased services. This is THE opportunity for Ferguson Township to respond to all of them and show them all that they are heard. I look forward to hearing a “YES” vote.