Conway selectmen received an important reminder Monday night: they’re part of a community, and their neighbors are keeping a close eye on the town’s business.
That means taking an open approach to government and keeping others, be they part of town government or simply residents, in the loop when it comes to anything that might have an effect on the town’s future.
That’s a pretty simple message, one that’s part of the fabric of live in a small community like Conway or others around western Massachusetts and, for that matter, the rest of New England. Residents expect those in office be willing to provide them with a chance to be part of the process that produces decisions, certainly ones that will lead to significant changes.
The idea of building some kind of municipal complex off Shelburne Falls Road, land that’s known as the former Greg Rose property, is definitely interesting. It’s an 11-acre piece of land that the town has owned for roughly six years ... property the town has anticipated doing something with. Just what, however, hadn’t been determined.
Therefore, it shouldn’t be a shock that the property’s future use would pop up on selectmen’s radar.
But what apparently did come as a shock, at least to many of the folks who attended Monday’s selectmen’s meeting, was just how far along the board seems to have gotten in moving forward without getting others involved. True, Selectman Rick Bean had outlined the steps taken to date when he appeared before the Planning Board just a few days before.
Those steps had included not just mulling the idea over between themselves and newly hired Town Administrator Ed MacDonald, but lining up a feasibility study with a $12,000 price tag.
We suppose we could credit selectmen with taking a proactive approach on coming up with a viable plan. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt when they say that they weren’t going to sign a feasibility study contract without getting additional information and involvement of others in town.
But the line of communication wasn’t what it should have been in Conway — we here at The Recorder have noticed a disturbing tendency to try to avoid the spirit of the state’s Open Meeting Law — and that’s what selectmen were called on.
Those Conway residents who showed up at Monday’s meeting should be commended for insisting on putting community consensus back out front.