MASHPEE — The Planning Council chairman said Monday that two local officials were wrong when they attended an event Saturday to seek public input on the updated plan to guide the city’s future development.
During the public hearing portion of the Mashpee Select Board meeting, Planning Board Chairman John Fulone complained that Mashpee Select Board Vice Chairman David Weeden and member of the planning board, Mary Waygan, had inappropriately participated in the “Mashpee Vision Workshop”.
“These are public sessions designed to gather community feedback,” Fulone said. “They are not a forum for elected officials to advance their personal agendas.”
Saturday’s three-hour workshop was facilitated by the engineering firm Weston and Sampsonthat the city hired to guide the process.
According to Fulone, Weston & Sampson’s consultants had asked Planning Council members and elected officials not to participate in the general discussion or breakout sessions because their opinions could influence the discussions and impact the outcome.
Fulone said Waygan and Weeden ignored those requests and actively participated in discussions, including breakout sessions.
At the select committee meeting, Weeden asked if Fulone was speaking as the chairman of the planning committee or as a town resident. Weeden said he didn’t know he couldn’t attend Saturday’s session.
“At no time during this LCP meeting did I represent myself as a board member. I did not try to influence anyone’s opinion. I was there in as a private resident,” Weeden said. “My comments were about the process and the presentation that was presented to us.”
Waygan, who attended the select committee meeting, said the planning committee received a brief briefing from Caroline Wells, senior project manager for urban and environmental planning at Weston & Sampson, ahead of Saturday’s event, where they were told they could participate as long as they didn’t dominate the discussion.
“I want to dispel any type of rumor that I was manipulating or exercising my influence,” Waygan said. “It is a process that is meant to be open, inclusive and fully participatory. I did not represent the Planning Council, I represented myself.”
She also tweaked Fulone, saying there was no consensus vote giving her the power to speak for the entire Planning Council.
Original Mashpee full plan created in the 1990s
The workshop, held at Mashpee Middle-High School, was the first of four sessions that will be held to gather public feedback on the updated version of the comprehensive plan – a basis for any long-range planning for Mashpee.
The original comprehensive plan was developed between 1994 and 1998 by the Mashpee Planning Board and the Mashpee Planning Department and relied on data from 1992. Over a six-year period, elected officials solicited input from other councils of Mashpee, elected officials, departments and 633 Mashpee residents to develop, review, modify and vote on the materials that made up the plan, according to the Mashpee city website.
During Saturday’s brainstorming sessions, Weeden said he was encouraged that people were still concerned about the community issues raised in the original comprehensive plan. He said Fulone and others should focus on the future goals of the updated comprehensive plan, as well as the accomplishments and failures surrounding the existing comprehensive plan.
“We need to review the old document to inform the process – to see where we need more teeth and how we can improve the process to achieve the goals and initiatives outlined in the plan,” he said. declared.
But Fulone argued that the attendance of elected officials tainted the results of the day’s activities.
“To believe that the comments and opinions of Miss Waygan and Mr. Weeden did not influence conversations and outcomes is absurd,” Fulone said. “In fact, the consultants confirmed to me that by actively participating in the discussion, Ms. Waygan and Mr. Weeden most certainly influenced the conversations and outcomes.”
Mashpee Wampanoag sites not shown on consultant maps
At the select committee meeting, Waygan also complained about the Mashpee cards provided by Weston & Sampson for the workshop.
The maps were draped over each table at the event and included sites such as Mashpee Commons, Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge, Otis National Guard Base, Mashpee Town Hall, New Seabury and Popponesset, but did not include any related information or sites. to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.
“We talk about inclusivity and openness to people – and then there’s nothing on this map about the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe,” she said. “There are malls there (on the map). Mashpee is not just Mashpee Commons or the Mashpee Rotary. It needs a reset.”
Because the map failed to capture a key part of the Mashpee community, Waygan said the public, including tribal citizens, have complained about what they say is the consultants’ lack of knowledge. from Weston & Sampson on Mashpee.
“People came up to me and told me this whole LCP thing was a sham to give Mashpee Commons what they wanted,” she said. “If you look at this map, it confirms (the thought process). I can’t put out this fire. It’s the callousness of Weston & Sampson.”
Weeden said he was also approached by tribal citizens who felt left out when they saw the map. Seeing malls listed on the map, then nothing about the tribe was offensive, he said.
“We have two nationally registered listed properties – old indian churchand the museum – both are national landmarks that are nationally recognized as historic properties,” he said. “And then there is also the tribal government (building).
Weeden said it was the consulting firm’s responsibility to know the history of the town.
“When you’re talking about the town of Mashpee, you can’t separate the tribe,” he said. “Maybe in other places you can do it, but not here.”
An email request for comment from The Times of Weston & Sampson was not returned.
Mashpee’s full plan update will take a year
In a telephone interview, city planner Evan Lehrer said updating the local comprehensive plan would take about a year and would include data collection; technical analyses, such as water quality; historical preservation; and the needs of municipal facilities. Having a lot to say, he said he was disappointed with Fulone’s comments regarding Weeden and Waygan.
“I think he (Fulone) generally got the facts wrong in that regard. This process is about capturing as many voices as possible through an engagement process,” he said. “And it’s kind of inclusive of all the elected officials who represent various interests in the city.”
Given that the Planning Board is the lead agency that acts as the lead on the development plan, it would be consistent and in line with best practice for members to participate – but also be mindful of their role as hosts and facilitators .
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“As for Mary Waygan, I believe she participated in the event in exactly the level of participation that our consultants and I believe would add the most value to the process,” he said. .
Lehrer said he was also happy to have Weeden involved.
“His presence was noticed and appreciated and he added value,” he said.
The absence of Wampanoag entities on the map was an error, will be corrected
For Lehrer, the absence of tribal sites on the Mashpee map was a mistake but will not be a trend that will persist in the future. Once the blunder was corrected, he said it was an opportunity for non-tribal citizens to gain a deeper understanding of tribal priorities, tribal identity and issues surrounding the city’s development over the past 500 years. years.
“As we go through the process, we’re definitely going to be more conscientious about these issues,” he said. “I also want to make it very clear that my consultants and I recognize the importance of including the tribe throughout this planned development.”
Although Lehrer felt the launch event was generally a success, he was disappointed that comments at the select board meeting reflected otherwise.
“I think there are many who will see what happened at this selectors’ meeting and feel like the process has failed or has insurmountable problems,” he said. “But that’s so far from the truth.”
Contact Rachael Devaney at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @RachaelDevaney.