By Beth David, Editor
Frank Coelho, chairperson of the Marine Resources Committee, voiced his ongoing frustration with the Selectboard and his own committee, as the boating season comes to an end and several key tasks he had hoped to accomplish remain undone.
Addressing the board at its 9/10 meeting, Mr. Coelho sought clarification on how many members his board should have, what constitutes a quorum, and what changes, yet again, would be made to its charge.
Town Administrator Mark Rees said he was redrafting the charge of the MRC for the Selectboard to review, and posted that the MRC had three vacancies. At issue is the uncertainty over how many members the MRC should have, said Mr. Rees, because he could not find the minutes from the meeting that created the committee.
Mr. Coelho complained that the committeee’s charge had been changed three times, including once in April.
The MRC has had contentious meetings of their own and contentious meetings with the Selectboard over the past year as the Selectboard’s representative on the Committee Daniel Freitas has complained about the meetings, has threatened more than once to quit as the Selectboard rep, but has also not consented to let Selectboard member Bob Espindola replace him, even though he has offered, all in open sessions during Selectboard meetings over the last year or two.
Three people have resigned from the committee recently, said Mr. Coelho, because they feel nothing is getting done.
“If you want me to resign, just kick me off, you did it before,” said Mr. Coelho, referring to the dissolvement of the Hoppy’s Landing Committee that he also chaired, some years ago, but with a different board.
“I want to help the town,” said Mr. Coelho, and noted some things he did on his own, such as marking Little Black Rock.
He said his committee had to argue and argue trying to come up with aquaculture rules and regulations.
“I’m trying to work with the town,” said Mr. Coelho.
Selectboard member Charles K. Murphy, Sr., said the board was not trying to sideline him.
“We just reappointed you,” said Mr. Murphy.
Mr. Espindola said that he had no idea what Mr. Coelho was talking about when he said he got kicked off a committee. It was before Mr. Espindola was on the board. He said it needed to be clear how many people were on the committee, so Mr. Rees had to rewrite the charge.
“We’re trying to make improvements,” said Mr. Espindola.
Mr. Coelho repeated his request that other Selectboard members attend his meetings. He said if Mr. Freitas misses a meeting, nothing they talked about gets relayed to the Selectboard.
The MRC is an advisory committee. It has no actual authority to direct personnel or spend funds.
Mr. Murphy noted that the board could not send more than one representative without posting the meeting because they are a three-member board, so two members constitutes quorum.
“We value what you do for the town,” said Mr. Murphy.
Mr. Rees noted that the MRC getting things done does not include telling the Harbormaster what to do. That is the supervisor’s job, who is Mr. Rees.
“We don’t do that,” said Mr. Coelho.
“I beg to differ,” said Mr. Rees, adding that he witnessed it first hand.
It is a charge that Mr. Freitas has also made in the past about the MRC.
Mr. Rees said the role of the MRC is policy, not day-to-day management of the town’s marine resources.
Mr. Coelho asked if the board could designate an alternate for the meetings the Mr. Freitas could not go to. The board, however, declined, with Mr. Espindola saying they help each other out informally, but that it was impractical to formalize it.
He offered to go to the meetings, and Mr. Freitas again was noncommittal about giving it up.
Robert “Hoppy” Hobson asked why the Selectboard could not simply appoint the three new people who sent letters asking to be appointed, to replace those who resigned.
Mr. Espindola said it was an active committee, and there was no reason they could not meet.
“He’s going to change the rules again,” said Mr. Coelho about Mr. Rees, adding it is something that he guessed, should be done two to three times a year.
MRC member Michelle Potter said they never told Harbormaster Timothy Cox, what to do.
She said they did identify areas that needed attention at the various marine properties in town. For instance, she said, they began discussing in March that the cement boat ramp at Hoppy’s Landing should be power-washed a couple of times a year, especially at the beginning of the season; and that the line down the middle needed repainting.
Ms. Potter said it was never done.
“My neighbor fell,” she said. “We do not tell Timmy what to do. We ask about things.”
Mr. Coelho agreed that the powerwashing was a safety issue and should have been done, but he had no recourse but to wait for the other departments to do things. In the case of the powerwashing, the Fire Department said it was too busy, and the Harbormaster did not push the issue. He noted that more than one person has fallen and gotten hurt.
“We’re telling you about these issues,” said Mr. Coelho, adding that he does not make up things “out of the air,” that the issues are usually identified by a member of the public who brings it to the committee’s attention.
He named a couple of issues they had been working on, such as parking, that the Police Department needs to do, and his committee cannot handle. He said there is nothing he can do about any of it, it all goes to the Selectboard.
Mr. Rees reiterated that the MRC should concern itself with policy.
Mr. Espindola suggested that the board accept the resignations of the three people who resigned, appoint the three people who sent letters, and set the number for the committee at five, with a quorum being three; until Mr. Rees finishes rewriting the charge.
The motion passed.
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