Saturday, December 03, 2005

Issue the RFP

It has been almost 7 months since a Milton resident approached the Board of Selectmen with a plan for commercial development of the DPW Yard. The conceptual proposal was responsive to the Town’s Community Development Plan, which calls for the rezoning of the DPW Yard for commercial development. The concept proposed a supermarket, 3 small buildings with retail shops on the ground floor and office space on the second, a bank and a restaurant. The Selectmen were surprised, and receptive to what they saw. Selectman Mullen said: “you might have something here”. Selectman McCarthy said: “This is breathtaking in its scale. ‘‘It's really a remarkable concept.'' And Selectwoman McEttrick, noting the town’s need for commercial and business taxes in the middle of yet another fiscal crisis said: ‘‘You couldn't be coming to us at a better time.”

Since then they have performed due diligence with a thorough exploration of the issues. A very well respected expert, Jon Witten, was hired to advise the board on every step in the process. A public hearing held at the Pierce School auditorium was attended by over 200 people, and 44 citizens addressed the Board of Selectmen and the Planning Board A conference with a traffic expert explored issues raised at the public hearing. Literally hundreds of letters, emails and telephone calls to Selectmen have allowed citizens to voice their views. And at numerous meetings of the board public comment was offered at citizen’s speak. Finally, a citizen’s advisory committee was appointed to offer comments on a draft RFP. The board has received their report.

It’s now time to move forward and issue the RFP. I attended most of the CAC meetings and I’m sure the board will find some useful suggestions they will wish to incorporate into a revised RFP. And if they think a re-use and feasibility study would be helpful, it can be carried out simultaneously.

No reasonable person could characterize the issuance of the RFP now as anything other than the result of a careful, deliberative process of public input and discussion. Not that there won’t be those who disagree. Certainly the abutters who have so actively opposed any commercial development at the site will not agree. And I’m afraid they are likely to continue personal attacks on members of the board, as they have with others. The great “silent majority” of Milton residents have neither the time nor the inclination to closely follow proceedings at this early stage of the process. They place their faith in elected officials to not allow the concerted efforts of special interests to blind them to the interests of the town as a whole. They trust that the board will be mindful of its fiduciary responsibilities.

We need to move from the abstract to the concrete. We need to spend our time from now on assessing the costs and benefits to the town of actual proposals offered by developers who are willing to take the risks to build something at the DPW Yard. After 7 months we need to take what in many ways is just the first step in what remains a long road with many rest stops. We need to issue the RFP for the DPW Yard.


Anonymous Carolyn Newman said...

Not to change the subject or anything, but I would like to proudly stand up and proclaim myself the source of the "No personal attacks" editorial from our friends at the Milton Times. This is my second time receiving this award, and I would like to thank the academy for recognizing my talents in this area.

Appartently the apparchiks at the Times have decided that anything resembling dissent constitutes slander.

I sent a letter to the Times (text below) criticizing their annual School Budget Bashing. This is hardly an opinion that I hold in solitude, since it's the topic du jour everywhere I go. As there is no where else to go (present company excluded) when you have an issue with the Times' journalistic integrity (of course I use that term with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek), they have a virtual Monopoly on the flow of information in this Town. I continue to subscribe to the Times, against my better judgement, so that I can let my husband know when the Father/Daughter dance will take place, but I certainly do not rely on them for accuracy in reporting. Nor should you. Following is the text of my letter. Personal attack? Perhaps. Warranted? Definitely.

To the Editor:

I would like to thank Dr. Giffune for her letter detailing the School
Administration's version of the annual budget dispute with the Milton Times.
After reading the articles heralding the arrival of the Milton Times' annual School Budget
Bashing, I wondered why, when arriving at the budget meeting, did the Times reporter not simply speak up and ask for a copy of the budget? Is it possible that this annual School Budget Bashing helps to sell newspapers?

In a town with (virtually) one newspaper, it is important that the School Administration continue to set the record straight. I would also urge registered voters to seek out other sources of information (e.g. Community
Access Cable) so that voters going to the polls to elect their School
Committee representatives are doing so with information gleaned from an accurate and reliable source.

7:12 PM  

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