Council Schedules Meeting: On Coughlin Park Renovations

Dawn Manning speaks at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting.

Dawn Manning speaks at Tuesday’s
Town Council meeting.

The Winthrop Town Council voted unanimously to arrange a meeting with Point Shirley residents to discuss the ongoing renovations at Coughlin Park and public safety concerns at the park.

Councilor James Letterie made the motion to schedule the meeting at the Point Shirley Association following a discussion of the Coughlin Park renovations and increased traffic and resident parking issues during the public comment period of the Council meeting.  Town Manager James McKenna will set up the meeting to which Department of Public Works Steve  Calla and Director of Parks and Recreation Sean Driscoll will be invited to meet with the residents.  Point Shirley resident Jane Poe requested the public meeting, saying that she had a petition signed by more than 100 residents, citing the “real and immediate concern relative to the use of Coughlin Playground for organized sports and the negative impact on the quality of life for residents” in the area. Poe later thanked Letterie for reacting swiftly to the residents’ request for a meeting.

Council President Peter Gill’s decision not to reappoint Dawn Manning to a second term on the town’s Park Committee drew exchanges at the meeting. Manning, a charter member of the committee that was originated by Gill to contribute ideas for the renovations at Winthrop parks, addressed the issue in the public comment portion of the meeting. Manning’s husband, Keith, expressed dismay at his wife not being  reappointed to the committee, praising her previous work on the committee.

Gill appointed Meredith Hurley and Julie Swanson as new members of the five-person parks committee. Former member Barbara Duffy had resigned from the committee, creating a second vacancy on the board. The other members are chair Linda Bressard, Dawn Sullivan, and Carlos Broussard. Councilor Linda Calla seemed to question Gill’s decision during the second public comment period at the end of the meeting.

“We had a young woman here tonight that is very energetic and she’s very passionate about the parks,” said Calla. “She has a proven track record that she has raised a lot of money. Why wouldn’t we want to have her on that [parks] committee? Even if it was in an alternate position – there a lot of times when people can’t make the meetings, if you have another person, they may be available in bringing up ideas or they may needed for some kind of vote or maybe to get out there and make some calls.”
Calla said, “it seems like she [Dawn Manning] was overlooked, passed over. For whatever reason it happened, I have no idea, but that really doesn’t send a good message to somebody who really wants to volunteer.”

Gill responded, “The council president has the responsibilities to make the choices and appointments that he thinks are the most appropriate. I will not get into discussing personalities.” Calla asked that consideration be given to the appointment of alternate members, but Gill said his decision was to have five members of the committee and no alternates.

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