Editorial: Northfield shapes its future
Northfield, take a bow.
Over months of talk and study, the town has been examining how best to serve its residents via town government. It has been a thorough process, one that has sought input and ideas from residents and information from inside and outside of the community to put together recommended changes.
What the Town Governance Study Committee is suggesting is that this town of 2,898 or so residents put a strong town administrator in place.
“We are recommending a reorganization of Northfield’s town government around the principle of placing a trained, experienced professional (town administrator) at the center of Town business,” states the committee in its report. “All of our research overwhelmingly indicates that an empowered town administrator should be put in place in the town of Northfield, Massachusetts.”
The committee came to this conclusion not just by listening to experts or officials from towns that have such a position on the books, but by also taking a long, hard look in the mirror of Northfield town government. And what they saw, in part, was this: the volunteers, those residents elected to serve on the Selectboard, simply can’t provide the time necessary to keep pace with day-to-day operations or keep track of the amount of information and regulations that officials have to digest these days.
Thus, hiring a professional with the talent and experience necessary to help run Northfield makes good sense.
The question is whether other town residents see the value in that change.
We’d like to think that it would be hard not to. Still, there will be residents, both inside and out of town government, who will be resistant to this change or others recommendations put forth by the study group.
Some will grumble about change, others the cost. We suggest residents take the time to study the committee’s report, ask questions and listen to what the study committee and Selectboard members have to say. We suspect they’ll then join the ranks of those already convinced of the need for the change.
And at the very least they will be part of the process, something they should be proud to take part in.