An online petition and signs cropping up in neighborhoods near the town's Tabor property are backing the message: "No Public Works at Tabor."
The signs and petition gauge the response of residents against the idea, many of whom would become neighbors with the new Public Works facility should the Board of Finance (BOF) and Representative Town Meeting (RTM) approve the Board of Selectmen's (BOS) recommendation to fund a $325,000 design plan for the site. The BOS voted 2-1 in the matter on Nov. 8. The item is now headed for the BOF and RTM.
The growing opposition to the idea became more visible last week, after RTM District 5 Republican representatives Ray Ingraham and Dennis Flanigan toured neighborhoods in the district near the Tabor land, asking opinions and distributing lawn signs to anyone who wanted one.
"We went door to door?mainly in that area," said Ingraham. "People were greeting us at the door and asking for signs, asking what can they do."
He said there would have been more signs posted, but "we ran out."
Regarding the BOS decision, Ingraham said he's found of his neighbors, "The long-timers feel burnt."
In addition to putting up with "60 years of the [town] dump" at Tabor, Ingraham said, "One person said we have a toilet [the town sewage treatment plant] on one side of Indian Neck Avenue and a landfill on the other side, and now they want to put in Public Works."
Others with whom Ingraham spoke felt that, should Public Works end up on 10 acres of the approximate 77 acres of town-owned land off Tabor Drive, the entire parcel will then be positioned as prime industrial space.
"Another worry was that, once it is industrial on both sides, the town's going to make it all industrial-66 acres of prime industrial flat land," said Ingraham. "And if we spend enough money to improve roads?to a level above what you need for residential, that land becomes more and more prime. Even when you put conservation caps on properties, those things can still be overcome by cash."
Residents opposed to putting Public Works on Tabor land are finding their way to an online petition instituted after Ingraham and Flanigan's walking. The petition, at www.ipetitions.com/petition/no-public-works-at-tabor-property is growing by a rate of 10 to 15 signatures a day, said Ingraham.
"The petition came about because the neighbors wanted to show there's more support not to have Public Works placed at the Tabor property," he said.
At the Dec. 5 BOS meeting, Ingraham submitted a list of 172 names of those in opposition to the Tabor proposal, but didn't speak to the BOS formally about the matter. He told The Sound updates would continue to be sent to town officials.
"It's a list of all the people who've come out and said they're against it, whether they've put a sign up or signed a petition. It's just showing what support there is?in the area and throughout the town, where there is not a lot of support coming out for it," said Ingraham.
A flyer distributed pre-petition asked for people's opinions on the matter.
"The flyer asked what their opinion is, [it didn't say] contact me if you're against it. It's been very difficult to find someone that's for it," said Ingraham.
Six citizens signed on last week to help develop an organized approach for the opposition. The group had its first organizational meeting on Dec. 4, said Ingraham. The group has a website "No Public Works At Tabor" and an email, nopw@firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ingraham said he and Flanigan are helping the group as a way to respond to the requests of their constituents.
"We're here to represent what our constituents want, not what we think is right. This isn't a secret party, this is a neighborhood thing and others should be able to join up. We've reached out to other members of the RTM and we may have to have our own public [discussion] on the matter," he said.
Another RTM member who's been active in reaching out to constituents on the matter has been Republican Minority Leader Frank Twohill, (District 1). The district includes property owners on the other side of the Tabor parcel along Pine Orchard Road, where a second entrance to the new Public Works facility would be constructed. Also directly impacted are residents of District 7, noted Ingraham.
"I would hope that the elected officials in three districts think long and hard about how it affects the area," he said.
The next step for the opposition group is to appear at upcoming meetings of the BOF and RTM, where the topic of financing the plan for Public Works at Tabor is going to be discussed. The BOF would be the first group to discuss the recommendation for financing. As of press time, the item was not on the agenda of the Dec. 10 BOF meeting.
"The Board of Finance looks at things at macro level-whether the town can afford it-and not so much whether people care. The RTM is supposed to take care of that," said Ingraham.