End the Cycle - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2262209

End the Cycle

Historically, the village has been run by a coalition of locals and businessmen, aided by wealthy developers and city people who wanted to know the right people to get things done their way. And the village bureaucracy was fully attuned to serving that governance paradigm.

A resulting sense of cronyism (and sometimes outright unwholesome administration) led many to demand change, and to the election of Jesse Warren. But the culture clash with threatened special interests and Warren’s failure to wrangle entrenched, sometimes contemptuous village bureaucrats led to a pervasive sense of dysfunction at Village Hall, and even shared priorities became mired. People again chose change.

Now, it all plays out again. The Pond Lane debacle, about which I have previously written, was the first telltale. The trustees’ mishandling/cheerleading the hard sell of a flawed plan, while dismissing dissent, was troubling. Surely this should have been something we could all discuss, compromise, accomplish and, then, rejoice. But, instead, even the simplest part of it is now inexplicably stuck with the town (and a vote), and the greater park idea has fallen into murky limbo.

Meanwhile, Warren has been regularly posting information, some of it critical of the administration (some, in my opinion, right, and some wrong). Meanwhile, when I last attended the trustees’ meeting, rather than discussing a greater vision for our village, most of it was devoted to responding to and/or attacking Warren.

This tit-for-tat is getting us nowhere. Our problems as a village are not so divisive, nor our ambitions for its future so different, as to warrant this level of acrimony.

All sides need to stop questioning the others’ good faith and listen to competing views, rather than using rhetoric to squelch them. A good start would be for Jesse and Bill Manger to talk to each other. Jesse needs to recognize that Bill is now the village’s elected leader, and, for his part, Bill should recognize that Jesse is a knowledgeable, dedicated voice for many residents who seek transparency and merit-based competency in Village Hall.

Which brings me back to Pond Lane. When I read the letter from Warren saying he would not run again for mayor [“Not Running,” Letters, June 6], I recognized that his withdrawal is the perfect moment for the mayor and the former mayor to end this cycle and work together again, as I think they once had on one issue: Warren was a tireless warrior for Lake Agawam.

With any political challenge now ended, it would be a great signal to bring Warren — with his wealth of relevant knowledge — along with many other diverse voices into a blue-ribbon joint village/town advisory committee to design an Agawam cleanup and park that we can all embrace, and celebrate.

James Sandnes

Southampton Village