The wariness is understandable. But given Warren’s dearth of volunteers, an idea brought up to reduce the number of planning board members from nine to seven (page 4) might bear further consideration.
While the town couldn’t run without its volunteers, there are shortages on some boards that have gone, in some cases, months without being filled. And there are plenty of openings: At next week’s Warren Town Council meeting, councilors will fill — or hope to fill — vacancies on the economic development board, housing authority, juvenile hearing board, planning board, voluntary historic district committee and the committee’s board of appeals. In recent history, councilor have asked applicants to certain boards if they’d be interested in serving on entirely different boards, given not enough here and too many there.
While reducing the number of members on five- and seven-member boards doesn’t make sense, practicality might suggest doing so on a nine-member board, like planning. Fully staffed and everyone present, a full board equates to longer meetings and more differences of opinion; when some fail to show — a problem that would be alleviated by allowing auxiliary members to sit at meetings — residents with business before the board are forced to come back another day.
Sad but true, Warren needs all the volunteers it can get. While it’s not the best solution to Warren’s problems, going with seven rather than nine could help deepen Warren’s volunteer reserves by two; and the town needs them both.