A Letter to the Editor: Public Participation, Third-Party Expertise Key In 40B


To the Editor: 

It was manifestly clear at the BOS meeting of 10/29/20 there is more than modest angst regarding the scale and impact of Shingle Hill upon Manchester By The Sea.  About 161 citizens tuned in to participate. 

The evening of 11/12/20 was even more revealing and incredibly frustrating for voters/citizens who wished to be heard in the so-called "Public Forum".  Chairman Boling kept us out of the dialogue for a full two hours and 45 minutes while he and his colleagues exchanged various statements to modest effect.  All this whilst hectoring folks who "watered their lawns too much" and suggesting Manchester had no water supply concerns which might impact this project. 

Additionally, he, for the second time, made it clear he would be entertaining removing the "chat" option on future Zoom calls.  Golly, who needs to know what taxpayers are thinking? 

Mr. Boling was emphatic the public would have no opportunity to opine on the project in the form of a vote.   

Finally, last night in another episode of arrogance, Mr. Boling declared he would dispense with the "chat" function of the Zoom calls.  Seemingly, those pesky interested voters are too assertive and skeptical of leadership. 

One can safely conclude the Board lacks the required skills and, indeed, the will to aggressively represent our citizens who believe the project is inappropriate for the town. 

Therefore, I respectfully suggest highly competent, experienced firms be retained to lead both an Environmental Impact Study and a Fiscal Impact Study.  This should be accomplished with all deliberate speed. 

As we have learned (sometimes rather sadly) these professional services contracts fall OUTSIDE THE DOMAIN OF COMPETITIVE BIDDING STATUTES OF MASSACHUSETTS. 

The Board can and must move with dispatch to identify and retain firms who are highly competent and unbiased.  It should do so through the lens of voter's suggestions. 

Assigning these important tasks to various other town boards will be an exercise in futility as they are ill equipped for the mission. 

This is vitally important as it is also evident both the Town Administrator and Town Planner are effectively "Cheerleaders" for the "Friendly 40B".  Their role should be de minimis in the town's efforts to defend itself. 

If you have any plausible reservations about this conclusion, why, after this project was announced, would they be championing MORE 4OB like projects in the proposed "40R" zone? 

Remove them from the equation. 

Any possibility Shingle Hill might be stopped or meaningfully reduced in scale will require rigorously researched data and folks who have been in campaigns in other towns which have achieved positive results. 

Mr. Witten acquitted himself well the other night but it is unlikely he is a candidate for this task.  His role would seem more advisory in design. 

Citizens of our town are motivated and fully engaged on this matter; the BOS, not so much. 



Chuck FurlongManchester