Myths vs. Facts: The Simsbury Edition

From the beginning of our resistance, unWillington has tried to bring all the facts to light, while dispelling the many myths that surround this secretive State Police project.  We have kept a “myths vs. facts” section, which has addressed a number of the pervasive pieces of misinformation swirling around.  We have published several expose articles, breaking down the inconsistencies coming out of Hartford.

We have tried to look at this proposed training complex from every angle, and to thoughtfully analyze every statement we’ve been told.  We’ve taken nothing for granted.

Except for one thing, and today is the day that changes.

From the very beginning, the notion that the Simsbury site is truly unsuitable has been the one piece of rhetoric that we’ve just accepted.  We’ve more or less bought CSP’s claims that the flooding is too damaging, the site too small, and the layout of the ranges too awkward to give our State Troopers the training that they need.

But as more information comes to light about Simsbury residents with serious political clout, and lucrative SWAT team events, it no longer makes sense to accept the “Simsbury is fatally flawed” without examining it.

  1. Three Years of Service:
    The State Police began its search for a new site over three years ago.  It first looked at Glastonbury, but withdrew less than a month after broaching the town.  So what has CSP been using for the last three years?  How have they been training our Troopers?  Perhaps more interesting: how has the CT SWAT Team Challenge been able to grow by leaps and bounds over these last three years if the Simsbury site is so dreadful?  After all, we’ve been told that the place is not only prone to flooding, but that it’s also “outdated”.  The brave and enthusiastic SWAT members in the promotional videos certainly seem to find the Simsbury site’s facilities acceptable.
  2. Weather Prediction is a Pretty Advanced Science:
    The cornerstone of CSP’s argument for abandoning the Simsbury site is the seasonal flooding caused by the Farmington River.  CSP’s Powerpoint presentation offers this slide as a visual aide:
    Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 4.54.50 PM
    Both ’84 and ’06 brought some severe flooding, to be sure.  The CSP presentation includes a number of other points about flooding, including damaged equipment & ammunition in the spring of 2007.Flooding, it seems, is something the State Police have had to deal with on the Simsbury site since its construction in 1947.  Weather prediction has only improved in the nearly 70 years following.  We now know, through not only scientific data, but also the wisdom of experience that the State Police have clearly laid out for us, that during spring flooding season, the range is vulnerable.  Equipment is vulnerable.  Ammunition stored on site is vulnerable.  So what steps have been taken, over the last 70 years, to mitigate this seasonal damage?From the CSP presentation:
    “Over the years, minor site improvements have been made to prevent or at least mitigate the impact of annual flooding from the Farmington. These efforts have resulted in negating some effects, but they have not been sufficient in preventing significant damage.”Note a few things carefully:  minor site improvements have been made.  Minor.  And those minor improvements have resulted in “negating some effects”.  That seems to be a pretty positive correlation.  Minor improvements = some negation of flood damage.

    So what would happen if even a portion of the $7,000,000 agency authorities are citing as the final price tag for a brand new facility were used to update the current one?  What would happen if the state of Connecticut managed to find $3.5 million dollars from it’s already struggling budget and made major improvements to the Simsbury site?

    Maybe it would look something like this:


This video, created by one of Voluntown’s residents, offers some exciting possibilities.

3. It Can Be Rebuilt- We Have the Technology
From the beginning of this adventure, a number of former and current engineers have said that rebuilding the Simsbury site to protect against flooding was an entirely possible undertaking.  The Simsbury site is not a throwaway range.  It can be rehabilitated, probably for less than the $7 million dream budget cited by officials.

So it seems that the real issue isn’t about the alleged unsuitability of the site.   It seems that the current site could be revamped (except, of course, for providing the all-important 300 yard rifle range, required for the 6-8 snipers on the State Police.  That would have to be solved somewhere else.  One wonders where that half-dozen snipers have trained for the last 70 years…?).

Examining the facts, it is clear that we can no longer support and promote the “Simsbury is unsuitable, the State Police must have a new place somewhere” line.  It is clear that the Simsbury site can be made suitable, and for less than what a new, massive, overbuilt complex would cost.

I think Governor Malloy said it best recently:

“The time has come that I think we need to balance the budget,
not spend more money than we have, and look at our long-term and short-term obligations in a different way.”
Well said, Governor.  Well said.  Let’s start with the Simsbury CSP site.

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Concerned?  Please join us this Wednesday, April 13th, at Wilderness Lake Campground in Willington.  Meeting starts at 6:30 sharp.  Bring a friend.