Letter to the editor: ‘Focused, inclusive’ planning needed for Mt. Abe bond

As we begin the process of preparing for Bond 4, it will be good to take in all of the learnings from the most recent Town Meeting Day vote.
A group of us joined the Bond 3 process in mid-November 2017 with the goal of getting to a “Resounding Yes!” By “Resounding Yes!” we meant a 60 percent voter turnout with 60 percent of them voting “Yes.”
We had naively hoped to significantly change the Bond 3 request by doing a whole lot more with less and by first addressing the most pressing needs. We were not able to accomplish that for a variety of reasons. The end result on Bond 3 was a 37 percent voter turnout with only 40 percent of them voting “Yes.”
Some might suggest this was a defeat. And they are correct. In some ways it represents a crisis of confidence. We all knew that work needed to be accomplished but the process could not deliver what the community in general and the taxpayers in particular were willing to support.
The great news is that we now have another opportunity to get to a “Resounding Yes!” by riding the transformational power of the recent defeat. My guess is that the 5-Town community is willing to do this under the right circumstances and conditions.
Hopefully the administration will now take the lead in embracing a bold and new public empowerment process that gets more voters excited and engaged. This will require change and a commitment to a win-win-win Bond 4 proposal. This will require leadership dedicated to whole system solutions. What does that mean? There are three broad interests that must be supported — publicly held, privately held, and commonly held ones.
Public interests include local government and public schools. Private interests include local businesses and households. Community interests include nature (i.e. air, water, wildlife and climate) and as well as the health and well-being of the human members of the 5-Town community.
It is no small task. But it is the one and only way to a “Resounding Yes!” We have learned that whacking down Bond 3 will not do it. A focused, facilitated and inclusive planning process that is win-win-win is what is needed now. Nothing less.
Let’s do this together.
David Brynn

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