standing letters

In response to Mrs. Hatsy Moore’s letter of Jan. 21:

First, my suggestion that councilors limit their comments to 10 minutes was and is intended to impose some self-discipline and focus upon council members, just as we have asked of the public. After all, the council is there largely to listen and learn about the matters before them prior to rendering a decision or voting. This applies not only to Citizens’ Comments but to presentations, public hearings, etc. It is not a complicated concept. The idea is not to speak for more than 10 minutes in a row.

Please put all these “comment periods” into context: Most Rhode Island communities severely limit time periods, many to as little as three minutes per speaker and at least one to a total citizens’ comments period of 15 minutes. As to responding to comments, note that the School Committee doesn’t respond at all, and I think there are other Rhode Island towns with the same approach. Moreover, my urging citizens or other interested members of the public to submit their concerns to the council and/or the town manager for their reports under the aganeda is not to “dustbin” those comments. The council can choose to respond to these written comments or not — the same process as when a citizen is at the podium.

Second, the suggestion as to Ms. Griscom’s concern with the memorial plaques/trees was and is a sincere effort to find a resolution. If you look at her recent letter to the editor of The Sun, you will see that the list of plaques/trees is long. It may be impractical to insist that they be placed downtown on the sidewalks in perpetuity (i.e. forever). I, too, purchased a memorial, in my case a rather expensive bench in Wilcox Park from the library. At some point it was apparently deemed irreparable, taken away without my knowledge, and not replaced. So yes, I understand it hurts when this happens. As liaison to the Westerly Municipal Land Trust, my suggestion at the meeting was and remains to work with that group to see if we can find an acceptable relocation. If not, then not, but it was an effort to move forward rather than keep letters flying with no progress on a heartfelt matter.

Third, it is relatively early days for this council. Please provide room for the possibility that this group is trying to find resolutions to issues, not trying to bury them.

Sharon Ahern


The writer is a member of the Westerly Town Council.

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