So where do we go from here?
Emotions are still raw from Tuesday night's Special Town Meeting. Friends are still sniping with friends on social media and residents are still arguing through Patch comments. Claims on both sides of the issue are being made about the wisdom, or lack there of regarding the outcome. I know that it was difficult at times to see people I deeply respect have a fundamentally different outlook on this issue. But it is done.
The vote Tuesday night was decisive at the most well-attended town meeting in the history of our town. For comparison, Tuesday night there were 2,563 residents by standing count, and in our last election in May for our Board of Selectmen and School Committee, 2,744 votes were cast. Penn, by all accounts has decided not to pursue this any further and is looking for a new partner in Plainville, the gaming commission met last Thursday morning and will issue a final ruling on the election on September 4th, and the Selectmen met this past Friday to cancel the election. This is the right path. Regardless of your position on the issue, no one can argue that residents didn't have an opportunity to vote, and given the need for a 2/3 majority for a zoning change, there is little chance a reversal of this decision would ever happen.
So what's next?
Regardless of where you were on this issue, we must all let it go. There are many on the "No" side that are still angry with members of the Board of Selectmen and the Town Manager for even bringing this to a vote, for their work promoting it, and the lack of a full impact study to be presented to the residents. On the "Yes" side, comments are frequent about how we must get used to bad roads, falling down elementary schools, and higher taxes, and it is all of us naive "No" voters who are to blame. I do not see a benefit to pursuing either of those arguments. It justs wastes energy. We are where we were on July 10th, 45 days ago, the day before we heard about slots.
There is an old and tired saying, "politics ain't beanbag." Well this debate has certainly not been kind to many of us who publicly engaged in it. If posters in response to my comments are to be believed, I am arrogant, misleading, naive, among many other less-than-kind adjectives. (my wife and children would probably like to add to the list, but that is for another blog...). Others, including our selectmen and town manager took their lumps as well. They had their character and integrity put into question many times, all while trying to serve the town in a way they felt strongly was the right way. As stinging and sometimes personal the debate got, we must all let that go.
There was tremendous energy expended on both sides of this issue trying to get out the vote, convince our neighbors of our position, bloging, tweeting, posting on facebook, and of course commenting on Patch. Imagine if that energy were directed towards concrete positive goals. Imagine if the resources my family spent on yard signs went instead to a public works project. Imagine if the time proponents spent debating their neighbors was dedicated instead to rennovating Livingston's playground.
So as merely a resident of this town, I will commit to serving our town in some way over the next year. Whether that be on a town board or committee, a volunteer at one of the events that the newly-formed Public Events & Celebrations committee will be bringing forward, or in any other way. What will you do? What is your role? While we have elected our selectmen and other town leaders to manage the house, we must be an engaged citizenry if we want to address the many challenges that were enumerated Tuesday night.
The town manager is having the list of open board and committee positions updated, and I will update this blog once they are available (Monday more than likely...).
And for those who found this blog not to their liking...well I'm sure I'll hear your beanbags below...