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DeBartolomeis Holding “Neighborhood Meetings”

Saying he is concerned about the neighborhoods surrounding Main Street, Selectmen Chairman Dino DeBartolomeis began holding a series of neighborhood meetings this summer to provide "an opportunity for town officials to sit down and listen to residents' concerns and come up with a plan to address those concerns."

The idea, the chairman said, is to proactively stop the "beginning of something bad" in a neighborhood that could cause residents' property values to decrease. "The neighborhoods are the fabric of the community. If you have strong neighborhoods, you have a strong community," DeBartolomeis said.

For the first meeting, held on July 27, DeBartolomeis invited 50 people from Church St., Congress St., Draper Park, Goodrich Court, Grove St., Jefferson St., Mt. Pleasant St., North Bow St., Pearl St., Pine St., School St., South Bow St., Spring St., State St., West Walnut St., and Winter St. whose names he picked at random from the town's annual street listing. Twenty-two residents showed up and "people brought up issues," DeBartolomeis said.

The concerns being voiced to date centered on traffic, trash, illegal apartments, noise, the condition of streets and parking issues, he explained.

Accompanied at the meetings by Police Chief Thomas O'Loughlin, Fire Chief John Touhey, Local Inspector John Erickson, Community Development Director Sue Clark, and Loriann Braza-Butts, the town's assistant zoning enforcement officer, DeBartolomeis said the idea is to create a non-intimidating format. "It allows the residents to be in a room with town officials where they can talk freely," he said, referring to the sessions as "one-stop shopping." Officials, in turn, used the session to brief residents about a proposed by-law governing "nuisances and vacant properties," which is due to be considered at an October 24 Special Town Meeting. Clark also used the session to ask for volunteers to help her survey areas where she would like to upgrade using federal Community Development Block Grant funding that she can apply for, DeBartolomeis explained.

The next neighborhood meeting was scheduled for this past Wednesday (August 24) for residents in the south end of town and in Prospect Heights. A third session, tentatively scheduled for September 11, will be for residents along East Main St., Hayward St., Beach St. and the Medway Road (Route 109) area, DeBartolomeis said.

The long-time selectman said he held a similar series of neighborhood meetings 13 years ago and felt it was time to hold them again. He briefs his colleagues on the Board of Selectmen about each session, and said the other town officials present often take care of minor issues raised at them within a few days.




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