Questions about public notice fail to derail Brunswick committee appointments

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BRUNSWICK — Town councilors Tuesday unanimously decided they will appoint five people to the police station subcommittee, despite concerns there was inadequate public notice of their intent.

The subcommittee’s job is to help research potential locations for a new police station.

Several residents expressed displeasure that there was no formal legal notice regarding the anticipated citizen positions on the ad hoc panel created by the council. Despite that, nearly a dozen applications were received by the Monday afternoon deadline, according Chairwoman Joanne King.

Town Clerk Fran Smith said the limited application time frame was included in newspaper articles. But resident Marybeth Burbank said she felt the deadline should be extended to allow proper legal notice.

“If the council is going to appoint a committee, make it known to the citizenry the group is going to be limited to five,” she said. “It seems to me the horse and cart are reversed here.”

Smith said standing committee rules are different than ad hoc committees, in that standing committees are required to run notice in newspapers twice within a two-month period while ad hoc committees are usually “fast-track” appointments that take place during a much shorter time frame.

Boody Street resident Dan DiEdwardo said citizens appointed to the committee “may not be independent of council influence” and suggested the citizen group meet and research options without the four councilors who are already part of the committee. 

King said as a general rule subcommittee meetings would not be televised, either. Councilors Debbie Atwood and John Perreault took issue with that.

“I think every meeting should be televised,” Atwood said. “If not, that leaves us wide open to accusations of secrecy … cloak-and-dagger stuff.”

Councilors reminded residents all committee meetings are open to public, even if they are not televised, and residents are encouraged to attend. Town Manager Gary Brown noted there may also be public “field trips” as part of the process.

The appointments committee is expected to make recommendations to the council Dec. 6. Five citizens will be chosen from the larger group, all of whom were scheduled to be interviewed Wednesday night. The council will make the final decision on who is appointed to the police station subcommittee, Smith said.

Locations under consideration for a new police station include the old Times Record building; property at Brunswick Naval Air Station; the existing Town Hall and police station on Federal Street; the recently withdrawn proposal of the corner of Pleasant and Stanwood streets, and the corner of Union and Weymouth, plus other properties the committee may feel are valid options.

The police station  subcommittee is charged with reporting to the council in February 2011.

Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or sgrinnell@theforecaster.net.

A quotation attributed to McKeen Street resident John Donovan was corrected to reflect correct attribution to Boody Street resident Dan DiEdwardo in paragraph 7 on Nov. 22, 2010.

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