I have some thoughts concerning the discussions that occurred last night that I hope you will consider.
First, honor the will of the people. I heard a lot of, “We want to honor the will of the people, but…” which frankly isn’t really honoring the will of the people. I’m not sure how much louder and clearer the people can be than by what happened at the polls this week. Approximately 3 out of 4 people voted that they do not want a town wide leash law that designates certain off-leash areas for dogs. They don’t want that. And yet, I heard A LOT last night about designating off-leash areas. So why are you still discussing designating off-leash areas? Well, your answer, presumably, would be, “Because we represent everyone, not just 3 out of 4 people. And ¼ of the people want there to be a town wide leash law with separate off-leash areas for dogs.” When you approach the problem that way, when you say we need to designate off-leash areas, you aren’t considering the will of the people, you are TOTALLY IGNORING IT.
If you are really considering the will of the people, the more appropriate approach would be to say, “Alright, most people didn’t like our idea of a town-wide leash law with designated off-leash areas, so that is off the table.” Then find another solution. How about this one? If you want to take into account the needs of the minority who prefer to walk in areas where all dogs are leashed dogs, how about designating a few areas in town that dogs are not allowed off leash? Maybe part of a beach, a park, some trails? People who want to get away from dogs should have places to go, no doubt about that. But as councilors you represent EVERYONE, not just the minority. And the MAJORITY voted against your ideas for designated areas for unleashed dogs. Even though you don’t agree, I ask that you honor the will of the people. Because it couldn’t be more clear than what happened at the election this week.
Second, start building bridges. This is your opportunity. It’s time for bridges, not walls. You have a choice. You have a very talented group of citizens at your disposal. You have seen what they can accomplish in two short months. And they are here to stay. So your choice is whether to build bridges and allow all the citizens of Scarborough to work together to come up with solutions to the problems we face OR to put up walls and continue to battle with the very people you represent. Bridges or walls. It’s up to you. Personally I hope it will be bridges, because if and when you start to build that bridge I think you will find the citizens of Scarborough working on that bridge with you. And maybe we can accomplish something really good together.
To that point, I would like to address the idea of an ad hoc committee. I strongly disagree with the proposed members of this committee. As I said at the meeting last night, it is totally inappropriate to include the fish and wildlife people in this committee. My understanding is that the goals of the committee are two-fold. One is dealing with the dog ordinance and the other is how to deal with Fish and Wildlife… because they threatened the town with a fine… because they negotiated a legal settlement with the town… because they may claim the town breached the settlement agreement and may try to reinstate that fine. It is totally inappropriate for them to be on this ad hoc committee. They have placed themselves in an adversarial position to the town. They are the other party in a legal dispute. They should not be on the town committee that is tasked with deciding what to do about them!
I can see wanting to include community services, and VIP’s, but why the Land Trust? Land trust land is not town owned or controlled land. Why the Audubon? The PEOPLE of this town want a voice. They have made THAT very clear. This is your perfect opportunity to give it to them. You can open up the process to the people in this town and give us all – people on all sides of the issue with differing opinions – an opportunity to collaborate together and create something that works for everyone. Or you can stack the committee with people who you will produce the result that you think they should. The ad hoc committee should be a committee of the citizens of this town. If they want to hear from the different parties such as Fish and wildlife, Audubon, land trust, etc. for input, fine, but please leave the committee in the hands of the REAL stake-holders in this town – the citizens of Scarborough. It’s time to start building bridges to the people you represent instead of building more walls.
Councilor Sullivan : no response
Councilor Holbrook : response 12/6/2013
Thank you for your recent letter. Certainly, a workshop is merely a brain storming session. I am pleased and hopeful that moving forward, we will have a committee in place that can successfully readdress the issues. The point made during comment and in your letter that USFW should be in a consulting/presenting role rather than a participant, is noted and well taken.
As for the dynamics for the members of the ad-hoc committee, for me it was a brain storming session and I was merely stating parties involved. A “stacked” committee of either disposition is undesirable. I’m confident there will be a good mix of “at large” members as well as a representation of parties involved. There is also usually a requirement that committee members must be town residents.
Hopefully I can answer your question and concerns of why I think the land trust and ET should be included. The lands held in their possession like Fuller Farm, Sewell Woods, ET trail and etc. are privately owned properties (the largest next to the beaches) that the citizens go to with their dogs and in some cases to be off leash.
That being said, I am aware of Land Trust discussions considering revoking or diminishing that privilege… which is their legal right. My hope is that by asking them to come to the table as well, it incubates good will and encourages those places to remain viable.
Again, I hope I’ve answered some of your questions and concerns.
Councilor Benedict : no response
Councilor Blaise : no response
Councilor St. Clair : no response
Councilor Donovan: no response
Councilor Caterina: response 12/5/2013
“Thanks, Catherine. I am so glad you made it to the meeting last night. I appreciated your point about US Wildlife involvement as a member. If we can get them to present to a committee would be more appropriate.
Please stay involved. I look forward to moving forward to design equitable solutions.
Scarborough Town Council
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