I am taking this opportunity to respond to the editorial "It's not that old," published on Friday.
The premise that a government building and specifically the Harford County Emergency Operations Center needs to be "old" to be replaced is flawed. The Emergency Operations Center was opened approximately 50 years ago on its current site. Some of the existing facility remains in use from that original structure.
Nonetheless, the current physical plant is outdated, in dire need of replacement, not repairs, in order for the county's hub of emergency management and 9-1-1 dispatch to remain operational at an optimum level for years to come.
As indicated in a report from Timothy C. Myers, Chief of Facilities and Operations for Harford County, "the current EOC facility as a whole is in a state of failure and should be replaced as soon as possible." Furthermore, Mr. Myers states, "Overall conditions range from inadequate to unsafe. From my perspective as a facility manager, any monies put toward repairs, upgrades are an inefficient and wasteful use of county funds". Pretty straightforward analysis.
The efficiency and effectiveness of the EOC has nothing to do with the issue of providing ambulance service as indicated in your column. On the contrary, the EOC is the heart of emergency management and a critical partner to local, county and state law enforcement agencies, as well as our fire and rescue community.
Harford County Government has spent more than $1 million in planning and permitting preparations for a new, state-of-the-art EOC. If we fail to act now, any further delays with this project could jeopardize the use of the existing site and the waste of taxpayer's money that have been expended for this project.
During Hurricane Irene last year, the EOC lost power as well as sustained a number of significant water leaks. This is the building in which emergency providers work. Is this the type of facility we should have during an emergency? If such an incident were to occur again and we are unable to provide service due to the failure of that structure, I am sure The Aegis would condemn Harford County Government for not having resolved these issues.
The time to act is now. Harford County needs to be proactive on this issue, not reactive. Further delays will not improve the situation at the EOC nor will it save the county money. On the contrary, failure to move forward with this project only saddles the employees of the EOC and Harford County Government with a deteriorating facility that serves a vital role in protecting the citizens of Harford County during storms, fires and other man made or natural disasters.
David R. Craig
Harford County Executive