To the editor:
My name is Deborah Sheehan and I live at 3 Starbrook Drive. I have been living in Barrington for almost 14 years and I am an active volunteer at the elementary school level. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the town council meeting on Monday, April 7, so my comments here are based solely from what I have read about in the paper or heard about from individuals who attended the meeting.
First and foremost, I would like to extend an apology to Kate Weymouth and any other elected official in town who has felt threatened by correspondence from folks in town. While I appreciate the fact that residents have very strong feelings about the proposed cell tower for the Sowams School playground area, there is no place in this discussion for threats of any kind. I have no doubt that we are all working toward what we believe is the best possible version of Barrington. To that end, we will all need to come together to work toward that goal.
Secondly, I would like to say that I was raised to believe that voting is not a privilege, rather it is a responsibility. While I am not active in town politics, I take my responsibility very seriously. I vote for the individuals I feel best represent my interests in Barrington. With three children who will be at three different schools in town, top on my list is the quality of their education. If I feel that this interest is no longer a priority to my elected representatives, it is my responsibility as a member of this community to speak with my vote. I truly hope that the individual to whom Ms. Weymouth referred to in her comments last night feels the same way, but simply did a poor job of expressing that sentiment.
I believe that it is the job of the town council to make decisions that are in the best interest of the town, while balancing many different needs and wants of the residents. I imagine this is not an easy line to walk. In my opinion, we as a community currently find ourselves in a situation that did not need to be what it has morphed into. From the comments at last night’s meeting, it seems as though the town council is digging in its heels on having a cell tower in town that, by all indication from the tower representative, can only go at a school or in the middle of a tennis court near a school. Had the period of open comment been allowed prior to voting to move this proposal forward, the feelings of the residents all over town would have been clear without anyone feeling as though they are being pressured, threatened or backed into a corner.
We have a process in place for a reason. When decisions are made that fly in the face of all things this community holds dear, it will garner a very strong reaction. We are all here for the schools, either that is why we came in the first place or we happened to land here as a happy accident before we had kids and stay for the schools. The town council is vital to maintaining the essential fabric of our community. The schools are top on the list of our most valuable assets in town. We need to come together on this and find a solution that meets the town’s need for coverage, while not doing harm to the schools, including, but not limited to, the school grounds, the students, the teachers, the property values, the environment, the aesthetics, and the fabric of our community. As I said, this is not an easy line to walk.
I will close by saying we are all in this together. I ask that the town council work with the concerned members of the community to find a solution to this problem.