Letter To The Editor: MBTS Moderator: Let Respect Inform Actions Before Town Meeting


To the Editor,

I hope you enjoyed the perfect weather on Saturday and were able to spend it outdoors.  Like me, I’m sure you were happy not to be in the Memorial School gym, discussing zoning amendments.  We should all thank the Planning Board and Select Board for their wisdom in postponing town meeting until the fall.  For members of the Planning Board who have worked for years on the proposed changes, it was undoubtedly hard to put off bringing closure to the effort.

We must take advantage of the intervening months to consider carefully a future direction for the town we love.  We have key decisions to make, and we need the best from all of us to make those decisions well.  I have been dismayed that our tradition of respectful public discourse is in jeopardy.  On Zoom, in print and in emails, the tone of debate has become increasingly divisive and personal.  I’m not on social media, but I’m told that the tone there is even worse.

In the coming months as we prepare for fall town meeting, I ask everyone to keep three principles in mind.

  • Believe that the person you disagree with cares about the town as much as you do, and wants the best for its future.
  • Trust in that person’s integrity; don’t assume there’s some hidden agenda.
  • Respect each person whose opinion differs from yours and show that respect in your actions.

Belief, trust and respect will help restore civil debate on these important issues and enhance our sense of community.

It will be critical during the months preceding town meeting that the Planning Board engage with residents to inform them about the proposed changes, explain the reasoning behind their recommendations, and listen to voters’ input.  Equally critical will be the obligation of residents to become fully informed and express their opinions.  If we rise to this challenge together, I have no doubt of a positive outcome.

Sincerely yours,

Alan Wilson

Town Moderator, Manchester

zoning, planning board, select board, public discourse