Preserving the past for the good of our future
June 2, 2021
Trading a multi-generational play field, part of the fabric of our “historical” waterfront community, for a housing development, located next to a busy arterial, is not a good deal!
I acknowledge and appreciate the countless hours logged in by the town officials on this complicated issue.
However, in my opinion, these efforts were spurious and not in the best interests of the community.
Public officials, whether elected or appointed, have a fiduciary responsibility to the citizenry they represent. In other words they are charged with deferring their own personal interests for the greater good of the community.
By taking the route of least resistance – to develop – rather than finding a solution that preserves the play field, they failed.
The premise for developing the site was based on increasing density and tax base. According to a local residential real estate agent, there are between 15 to 20 buildable lots west of Maple street, plus three lots behind Pioneer Market and as many as eight lots at the Snapdragon property, just off of Whatcom Street.
I am curious what the motivation behind rezoning the property was, once it became available, allowing it to be developed rather than preserved. It seems obvious that the opportunity to develop was a driving factor, otherwise there would not be a need to rezone. Also the long term relationship with the developer had to have been a factor. And once it became evident that we are in a “hot” housing market, the developer was on a fast track.
It is not always about the money, unless of course you’re a developer!
Dave Hedlin, early in the project, expressed the preference for the play field to remain unchanged and also said the local community has never been harmed by taking its time to arrive at the best solution for the greater good. Given enough time, I am confident the parties could have found a solution satisfactory to all.
Sadly, it is too late to push the “reset” button and we’re forced to live with the consequences.
P.S. Another nagging issue, in addition to the perceived buyer standing by to sign the buy/sell agreement, why did the town incur $40,000 real estate brokers commissions when the property was never listed and Scott Thomas, our town administrator, is an attorney and could have drawn up the agreement at a much lower cost?