I am writing in response to a Letter to the Editor from last week as submitted by Mr. Robert Warren to the Town Crier and other media outlets. I take issue with much of what Mr. Warren offered in his letter. But, I acknowledge and respect his, and anyone else’s right to share their viewpoints. What I do not respect is any type of blind or baseless suggestion or innuendo that, by not taking a public position in support of or opposition to the Global gas station proposal, that I, or anyone else in Town Leadership, is somehow in being “managed” by the former Town Manager and/or Board of Selectman Chair. That suggestion offends me. I am managed by ONE person in the world. And that is me, guided by my conscience and my commitment to my family, my faith and my community. Anyone who knows me, I am confident, will corroborate this. On this point, I will speak no more.
Mr. Warren suggests that Town Representatives, and from that, I will assume him to mean members of the Board of Selectmen, have remained “silent” on the Global gas station proposal. I will again correct him in pointing to the Selectmen meeting that took place in July. At that meeting, a resident asked, during public comments, if any of the members of The Board wished to articulate their position on the project. At that time, I expressed my position, which I largely maintain today. That being that this proposal is in its early phases. And, as it is being presented before the Planning Board, and probably eventually before the Planning Board of Appeals, I, as a member of the Board of Selectmen, having no specific authority or jurisdiction over the matter, was watching this keenly as a resident, like so many others. I expressed then, as I maintain now, that with the limited information so far presented, and with what I believe are many more public meetings to be had, I find it premature to jump to judgement without having a complete set of facts from the Town / Planning side as well as from the Proposer’s. In fact, as I write this on Monday night, I am aware of a Planning Board meeting scheduled for this Tuesday where they will continue the discussion and site plan review. I look forward to watching and learning more from this discussion. Now, I understand that some residents may want to hear from their elected officials about this project. And, I certainly respect any of my colleagues who may feel inclined, at this early juncture, to express their own opinion on it. But, I refuse to allow myself to be pushed into taking a position just to pander to the anti-Global campaigners. I, similarly, cannot express support, at this time for this project for the reasons stated. I just do not feel like I have all the answers. What I do have, and what all too many of us have, is a wealth of unsubstantiated, untrue, social-media driven rants and fear of what this project will represent.
A question in Mr. Warren’s piece asked, who do I represent. I can say, with conviction and sincerity, that I represent the entire population of Wilmington, present, and future. I have the serious responsibility of thinking about Wilmington from a big picture perspective, to consider what is best for our community today and for generations to come. I do not have the luxury of acting out of emotion or on rumor or innuendo. I feel compelled to deal in facts. As a result, when I feel that I possess a complete set of facts, I will feel confident and comfortable in formulating my opinion on this project AND on sharing that opinion with anyone who cares to hear it.
At the risk of being repetitive, I’ll restate that the Board of Selectmen has no jurisdiction on this matter. As such, I have been, and will continue to be focused on the issues and policies on which we at the Selectmen level DO have authority and influence and where I feel that our efforts are better applied. Specifically, issues like New England Transrail and the Olin Chemical Superfund Cleanup; working with MASS DOT on the Rte. 38 improvements and the Butters Row Bridge replacement, the facilities Master Plan, the town’s <10% “affordable” housing stock and the spectre of 40b as we approach a census year, and many more.
Now, let me state a few observations that I have made during these early days of the Global Proposal. 1.) It is NOT a truck stop. That question has been asked and answered a number of times. One can say they think it will be a truck stop. But, the FACT is, that it is not a truck stop. 2.) The site is privately owned. As such, those owners can, and most assuredly will, develop the site. The question is how? The current proposal is the Global Gas station and restaurant near Rte 93, on the outskirts of the town. If this proposal fails or goes away, I am not sure that an office building with 250+ cars at the morning and evening rush hours is a better option. Similarly, I fear that a dense, multi-family residential complex there, that could come as a Chapter 40B project, would similarly place hundreds of cars on the road at the rush hours. 3.) My logic tells me that from a public safety perspective, having a single site for our Police and Fire personnel to respond to is better than any of the alternative multi-unit scenarios. 4.) Signs scattered throughout Wilmington that read “Put Wilmington Families First”, suggest that anyone who would dare to not be opposed to this gas station is somehow anti-family. I find that suggestion, and the signs that state it, to be a cheap ploy and to be offensive. 5.) I know Mr. Newhouse and Mr. Caira. I know that they both were born and raised here and either have or are still raising their families here. And, in the case of Mr. Caira, is watching his grandchildren grow up here too. I know, personally, that these two gentlemen have a love for this town unequalled by anyone else. And, that they have a vested interest in protecting and preserving the town’s future for their own families, if not for all of ours. Suggesting that either of these men are “in it to make a buck” is preposterous. I know both of these men from having worked closely with them in my early days on the Board of Selectmen. I know that neither would ever sacrifice their principles or the well-being of the town in which they care for their families for any amount of money.
Lastly, I am challenged and frustrated by the idea that ‘If you’re not with me, you are my enemy’. It leaves no room for compromise or for living as neighbors and friends and agreeing to disagree. I would challenge my friends and neighbors throughout our great town of Wilmington to resist the temptation to get angry at each other on social media, print media or in public over personal opinions. Our country needs to find a way to TALK to each other and accept and learn from each other and move the ball forward. Let’s start that movement here.
Wilmington Board of Selectman – Chairman
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