On behalf of The One Hundred Club of Montclair, I write to encourage Montclair councilors to respect and renew the groundbreaking shared services agreement that the Township of Montclair and the Borough of Glen Ridge entered into over 30 years ago.

Our organization was founded in 1966 to support "dependent widows, wives and children of patrol officers, firefighters or emergency medical technicians who ... have lost their lives, or have sustained disability or incapacitating injures in the line of duty.”

Just a few months after the Montclair Fire Department assumed responsibility for the Borough of Glen Ridge, Montclair Fire Captain Frank A. Quadrel lost his life on New Year's Day 1991 at a fire on Ridgewood Avenue. In the aftermath, our organization was there to support his family.

Our relationship with the Borough of Glen Ridge was strengthened following that difficult beginning and it's weathered other controversies too. Several years ago, a former member of the Montclair Council was heard disparaging Glen Ridge and arguing that the Borough should just be subsumed into our town for our financial benefit. ... How arrogant and outrageous!

How many in Montclair, for example, would be content to be subsumed by Bloomfield or Newark and lose local control of our magnet schools? Few, if any.

Yet the relationship we have developed with Glen Ridge for fire services is mutually beneficial because it costs us very little and serves Glen Ridge so well. The truth is, were this contract to go away, Montclair would still maintain three firehouses, five trucks and engines, and the same number of personnel because the geographic relationship of the two towns is so conducive to the service we provide.

What's more: if there were a fire in Glen Ridge, our department would still be there to provide mutual aid and support as other towns do for us.

Those on our Township Council who argue that the Fire Department's budget wouldn't suffer and that only the Township's overall budget would be affected are missing the point: whether our Fire Department is cut or the Township's overall revenue is reduced, the people of Montclair will suffer.

Our organization will make this letter public and, by copy, we express our sincere hope to the governing body of the Borough of Glen Ridge that this unfortunate political controversy passes quickly, that our shared services relationship remains in full force and that the Montclair Fire Department continues to provide exceptional fire safety services for both towns for years to come.

Michael D. Byrne