Observer Corps Report June 2019
The five member Board of Selectmen is the executive arm of town government in Falmouth. They are voted at large in rotating three year terms. The Board meets twice a month, usually every other Monday, at Town Hall. The meetings are open to the public and are broadcast on television on FCTV.
The agendas vary with issues presented to them by the departments and the committees they oversee. At each meeting there is always an opportunity for public input. Some of the agenda items are ceremonial such as recognizing new Eagle Scouts, town proclamations and other recognitions.
The Board also reviews applications for new and renewal of various licenses as well as signage requests. They hear reports of activities, issues and progress of the numerous town departments and committees they oversee.
Of particular interest to the LWV, the Board has invested a significant amount of time to the following issues:
Water Quality: The discussions this year have centered on the impact of sewering on growth and redevelopment. As new denser development downtown and new single and multifamily housing, the Board must weigh the needed development with the capacity of the wastewater treatment facility to absorb that increased use. This issue promises to loom large in the coming years as the community continues to grow.
Land Use: The conflict between having green spaces and housing especially affordable housing has been a recurring theme among the deliberations of the Board this year. There appears to be a strong NIMBY sentiment in Falmouth with many dedicated and persistent voices. This year that sentiment and the underlying (often unspoken) fear for the potential lose of personal property values and/or the nature of those folks who may move in to that space drives the vocal opposition.
Public involvement: This Board is committed to hearing public input on any potentially controversial subject in the appropriate venue and at the appropriate time. This year the Board began calling for community forums to discuss these issues. Such action, happening at the beginning of the process, will help reduce inappropriate challenges at regular board meetings where such challenges only generate ill will. Groups who want to involve the Board in a discussion can have a meeting with the right people at the right time and in the right place. The Board wants very much to have all parties able to express their opinions.
They are a fully engaged dedicated members. Each person comes to the meetings prepared and conducts business in a collegial respectful manner. The Chair runs a well organized meeting with a skill in time management that does not prevent full participation. The meetings start on time and the agenda moves the meetings along established time lines. Rarely is a member absent from the regular meetings.
The meetings are televised on the local television station FCTV. The local newspapers are represented at every meeting. The members of the Board are always mindful of the larger audience and strive to communicate to their constituents as if they were sitting in room. Communication across all forms of media is a core principle of this Board of Selectmen.
It is my privilege to represent the League of Women Voters observing the Board of Selectmen.
Maggie Sweasy, LWVF Observer Submitted June 2019