Friday, January 19, 2018

Selectman Richard Foster provides his prospective....

Last Wednesday night I tried something different. Instead of sitting in the conference room at the High School listening to speaker after speaker solicit supporters of their views, I drifted to a point of five hundred feet above the room and concentrated more on the actions of the group instead of what was actually being stated. It was officially a Planning Board Public Hearing on the rezoning request for the Brewer-Young Estate (aka Mansion), but it was also a rehearsal for our upcoming Special Town Meeting on the rezoning issue. On one side of the issue was the emotional “Save Our Green” group and on the other side was a more logic driven group, “Save the Mansion”. The Save the Mansion group had a “plan” and the Save Our Green group offered emotional responses to justify their position.

Every person at this meeting has shared an equal opportunity in the past years for stepping forward with a plan that would have preserved the appearance of the Mansion, and yet, only one group of individuals displayed the vision and financial backing to do more than provide “lip service” to the preservation of the Mansion. The Mansion has been in decline for years, and now, when we finally have a group willing to take a chance on its preservation, the “nay-sayers” are coming out of the woodwork spreading every type of rumor possible in hopes that something will stick.

Where was this group when solutions to the preservation of the Mansion were being sought over the years? Ironically, the Save the Green folks could have formed a LLC years ago combined with a robust fund-raising effort and possibly purchased the Mansion from this grass roots effort. But instead, everyone has quietly stood by as the Mansion has declined. The Save Our Green group now has a vision, but that vision is narrowly focused on only stopping the Save the Mansion movement.

Unlike the Save the Mansion group, the Save Our Green group offers no solution or plans. In a final movement of defiance against the Save the Mansion group the Save Our Green group has resorted to smearing the activities of our Town Manager suggesting unethical behavior. This is just one more smoke screen designed the draw our attention away from the fact that they really don’t have a plan other than opposition. I believe everyone did an excellent job expressing their views in support of their positions, but my preference will always be to drift more favorably towards programmatic planning efforts instead of emotionally driven decision making.

In the case at hand, it appears that the Planning Board had similar thoughts in approving the Save the Mansion proposal setting the stage for approval at our Special Town Meeting which will be held on January 25, 2018. As viewed by many, this is a very important step forward for our community.
Please plan on attending our Town Meeting to support your position on the rezoning issue.

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