Editorial: Barrington can welcome a second flagpole

Posted 7/23/21

A year ago, Town Manager Jim Cunha decided on his own to fly a Black Lives Matter flag at Town Hall. Who knew that a dozen meetings and countless hours later, town leaders would still be talking …

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Editorial: Barrington can welcome a second flagpole

Posted

A year ago, Town Manager Jim Cunha decided on his own to fly a Black Lives Matter flag at Town Hall. Who knew that a dozen meetings and countless hours later, town leaders would still be talking about flags?

Yet after many passionate discussions about flags, symbols, America, racism, patriotism, morality, policy, procedures, causes, conflicts and inclusion, the flag debate may have reached a resting point on Monday night. The Barrington Town Council accomplished a few things during a special public meeting about flags.

First, councilors set a calendar for which flags will fly beneath the U.S. flag for the next year. Expect to see a “Thank you, first responders” flag in September, breast cancer awareness flag in October, black lives matter flag in February, autism awareness flag in April and pride flag in June.

Secondly, unless there is some compelling reason to reconsider this schedule (a catastrophic world event, for instance), the council is not inclined to talk about flags until next July, when it will consider its flag schedule for another year to come.

That’s good news for those who have grown tired of hearing many of the same folks say many of the same things, meeting after meeting, hour after hour, in their ongoing, simmering and unlikely-to-be-resolved feud over flags and their meanings.

However, the council adjourned with one unfinished item. The group of veterans who are angry about flying “cause” flags above their honored memorial are still aggrieved and unhappy with the town’s stance. Thus the town still has a policy that is divisive for some significant group of residents.

Several who spoke Monday night suggested the town should erect a new flagpole, away from the veterans memorial, and this is where the “cause” flags can fly. It’s a good idea, and the town should move in this direction.

One councilor is worried that this second flag pole could be seen as secondary in the eyes of the public. That won’t be a concern if the town places the new flagpole in a prominent location.

Many who have spoken passionately in favor of flags like “Black Lives Matter” have talked about how they feel welcomed in a town flying such a message. Yet that message is somewhat obscured atop a hill off the main thoroughfare and blocked by large trees.

So put the new flagpole out front for all to see. One suggestion is at the corner of County Road and Maple Avenue, at the entrance to the town government complex. Here’s another: place it beside the Barrington Booster Board at the true entrance to town. Or place it in the island at the intersection of County and Rumstick roads, which may be the busiest and most heavily trafficked area in Barrington.

There is risk that the council will turn placement of a second flag pole into yet another year of meetings and discussions, passions and debate. But maybe it can move swiftly on this, and maybe it can turn this running soap opera into a point of pride for the town.

Maybe, as Councilor Rob Humm said eloquently Monday night, they can shift from being “flag councilors” to being “town councilors” once and for all.

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.