For the residents and business owners in the center business district and surrounding neighborhoods, to say they are at their “wits’ end” is an understatement when it comes to the future of the center district.
With a new town manager in place, they are not letting up on getting answers nor are they holding their opinions back.
Resident Jean Coughlin said at last Tuesday’s Council Meeting that she still can’t get over a map from the town showing her home in the business district. She also attended last week’s Planning Board meeting and asked “if they could do the right thing.” She’s trying to attend every meeting because she feels like she missed something in 2014, the year the often-discussed zoning map was created.
“I think we need to figure this out before we move forward. I thought we had an answer with Town Manager Terry Delehanty saying no commercial building next to a one-or two-story home could go up higher,” Coughlin said. “We keep getting an answer and then getting more answers.”
Town Manager Austin Faison tried to clear things up but soon found himself apologizing and clarifying his statements. He said no zoning map was ever codified in 2014. He said he is just trying to clean up what was left for him when he was hired in Winthrop a few months ago.
“First, we will revisit the master plan process,” Faison said, noting that the town is great at making plans and then it stops. “There will be a map so we can stop talking about a map, as a professional I don’t know how you make zoning without a map. We will be looking at the middle school site.
“We were not involved in their process and there is blatant omission over content and residences,” resident Donna Segreti-Reilly
“And I apologize for that. My entire time here I’ve been transparent and upfront,” Faison said
“We’re not saying it’s your fault,” Segreti-Reilly said.
“I understand these things run hollow because of the past, I will put all of these decisions in your hands, I don’t care what goes in the center business district.,” Faison said. “What I want is for Winthrop to be a functional government, and I will help guide Winthrop in that direction. At the end of the day I’m ‘agnostic’ to what goes there. I want what people here want.
“We need to make a document and move forward,” Faison said. “We have a lot of plans here and a lot of inaction.”
But his comments about not caring rubbed a few people the wrong way and resident Kathleen Cappuccio shared her thoughts about Faison’s comment about not caring about what goes in the center business district.
“I have so many opinions on that comment…It is your job to care what happens to this town. That’s disgraceful what you said. I’m horrified at that statement,” she said directly at Faison.
She noted that the middle school on Pauline Street has been vacant for five years. She said she is pleased to meet and work with the new assistant Town Manager David Rodrigues who has a background in planning.
Before finishing her statements Cappuccio said, “Mr. Manager you need to care about everything that happens in this town. Whether it was someone’s history or not you need to care.” And the crowd applauded.