A Very Long Night

Well, last night took longer than it needed to.

Despite items 3-8 being on the consent calendar, which included some funding issues, we spent over an hour on item 9 which seemed to finally bring the RTM together in the bipartisan way it was intended to be.

Maybe it was because the item under discussion, rebuilding our 106-year old crumbling beach pavilion, was of such a non-political nature or maybe it was just the Christmas spirit but it was certainly an interesting process. Oh yeah, and a long one, too.

What bogged the body down was that the Pavilion is being rebuilt in three phases and we were being asked to fund phase one without a clear picture of what the pavilion would look like and how it would be used when all three phases would be complete. The Rec and Public Works departments had gotten together and figured out how the East Wing could be modernized and showed us floor plans during the Committee Meetings last week.

The problem seemed to be that not only didn’t we know what the full scope of the project looked like; we felt a healthy discussion over the use of the space had never been held. Are private lockers for only 200 out of 57,000 residents really the best use versus, say, public changing spaces? It was argued that the building was built as part of a private beach club serving 500 members and now services one hundred times that number.

Despite being told repeatedly this had been on the town’s agenda going back a year; nothing reached us before this month because the town waited to get some state funding to help finance phase one. This is commendable but still, we were being pressured to approve this now so they could finish the application and bid process so the pavilion could be rebuilt during the spring for summer use.

Somewhere in the middle of the comments, many of which seemed repetitive, I spoke up and objected that both the Board of Finance and Board of Selectmen routinely hand us matters to evaluate and approve with a ticking clock attached so sometimes we’re forced to approve things when we feel in our hearts, it could be better. I urged that more consideration be given when putting things on agendas.

While that was intended as constructive, a member from the other side of the aisle took an unnecessary swipe, declaring that this was an ill-conceived muddle that only proves the total incompetence of the upper levels of town management. And gosh, the election for the upper levels of town management is only eleven months away. Fortunately, at the “socialable soda” afterwards, at least two members of the other party made certain to distance themselves from their brethren.

Anyway, this thing dragged out and finally got settled and before you knew it, the final three items were addressed, commented upon and voted upon lickety-split. A little after 10 p.m., most of the members were on their way to Angus where Buffalo wings and nachos awaited.

I was not so lucky.

Our zoning sub-committee had a scheduled meeting where we hoped to review a final draft ordinance, vote it into existence and retire. Four members of the public, though, endured the previous meeting just so they could speak with us on the proposed Demolition Delay. As a result, the next meeting took nearly an hour and we decided we needed to do a little more due diligence. I was reminded all over again that I proclaimed in October we needed to make certain our ordinances were done right so rather than rush, we’re doing the job that needs doing.

In retrospect, this loose end should have been touched on sooner but was eclipsed by the other departments and processes reviewed. At least it’ll get covered and when we do take the final vote, it’ll be done with full knowledge.

I made it to the Angus for about an hour, enjoying a few wings and some lively conversation with folk I don’t normally get to chat with. A fine way to end the very long night despite how tired it has left me for the rest of the week.