As the Long Lots Elementary School project moves forward, a group of residents want their voices heard by the Representative Town Meeting.
That will happen, moderator Jeff Wieser says.
But not by petition.
On Tuesday, Lou Weinberg — chair of the Westport Community Gardens, which may be forced to move if a new baseball diamond is built on its current location — submitted a petition signed by 37 electors to the Town Clerk.
It requested a chance to present to the RTM “the history and current status of the Westport Community Gardens and Town Preserve.”
Citing “the largest capital expenditure in Westport’s history,” the petitioners said: “We believe it is incumbent upon the RTM members to have a full understanding of the consequences of a project of this magnitude.”
Wieser — who as moderator decides the monthly agenda — said in an email to the 36 RTM members yesterday:
You will see that this petition is asking for time at an upcoming RTM meeting to present an update on the history and current status of the Westport Community Gardens and Long Lots Preserve. This request is very similar to the one delivered this summer by the citizens concerned with the path of the Parker Harding discussions.
As I did in deciding that the presentation previously requested was not an issue within the RTM’s purview, I have decided not to bring this new petition to the RTM. Since that earlier stance, which was supported by the Town Attorney, we have had long and public conversations about how to review such requests by electors. In a subsequent petition meant to clarify how that should occur, 82% of the RTM has voted that discretion in this regard is appropriate.
I am alerting you to this decision so that you are aware and, if you object, to remind the RTM that the body has a clear – and welcomed – opportunity to overrule my decision within the confines of the next meeting.
I also point out that we will most probably be considering $1,000,000+ funding at November’s meeting for the design of the new school. There will be ample opportunity at that meeting and at many, many more public meetings for proponents of the gardens to comment on the situation.
I think all are aware that as a gardener at my beloved plot #146, I am not indifferent to the outcome of this debate. But as moderator I will continue to be moderate; to stay away from the fray and let the town’s process, which is a very good process, run its course.
I don’t wish to start a debate. If you have comments or objections, please communicate individually with me or others.