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Ashfield Selectboard chair Field resigns

ASHFIELD — After a year and a half of dysfunctional Selectboard meetings, the chairman has decided to throw in the towel.

“It just got to the point where I had to say ‘enough is enough,’” said Douglas Field, 74. He has resigned from the board, effective Monday, with six months remaining on his first three-year term.

“It was giving me nightmares; I couldn’t sleep at night,” he said.

Tempers flared at a 21∕2-hour Sept. 27 Selectboard meeting, with a heated exchange between Selectboard members Paulette Leukhardt and Ron Coler that included accusations of personal attacks and gender bias.

“I don’t know where the end is,” said Field at the time. “I’m frustrated. I know a lot of people in Ashfield are frustrated.”

Though the board’s Oct. 17 meeting was more civil, and brought suggestions for how to have better meetings, the board slid back to in-fighting afterward.

“For some reason, things can’t be resolved,” said Field Friday. “I hope they can turn it around, but I don’t have any suggestions at this time.”

With no end to the board’s troubles in sight, Field decided to step down.

“I just felt that it was time to get out,” he said.

Though recent meetings have been attended by dozens of residents, several of whom have taken audio and video recordings and raised concerns, Field said that wasn’t a factor in his decision.

“It had nothing to do with the public,” he said, ‘it’s all in-house.”

Though he’d only been a member for 21∕2 years, Field was no stranger to the Selectboard when he came on.

“I was fire chief for 22 years. I’ve been to many board meetings,” said Field. He said the board always seemed to function fine then, just as it did for the first year of his term.

Both of his fellow members were elected to the board since then, Coler this year, Leukhardt in 2011.

Field left his role as fire chief in 2009, after 35 years with the department. He said he’d encountered no troubles there, and left the position to retire.

Field hopes to continue serving the town as emergency management director and 911 coordinator. He’s held those roles for almost four years, beginning after the December 2008 ice storm that affected many of the county’s hilltowns.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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