Councilor Column

Written by Jessica Rapp Grassetti

Two Thousand Fourteen is an extremely significant and meaningful year for the Town of Barnstable. Throughout the coming months each of the Seven Villages will distinctively honor the 375th year of the Town’s founding. Historical chronicles, interviews and themed celebrations will be showcased with a special emphasis on the past twenty-five years. Events of triumph, tragedy and tradition will be recalled, as there is much to reflect upon and remember. A calendar of events and more information can be found at
A major change in the past twenty-five years was the transition from a three Selectman-Town Meeting form of governing to the current Town Council-Manager structure. Barnstable adopted, in the spring of 1989, a Home Rule Charter that vested authority in a Town Manager subject to the legislative decisions of elected Town Councilors. While we may miss the open debate, candor and free association of Town Meeting the less provincial and more streamlined method of conducting the people’s business is deemed more productive and efficient.
I am deeply honored and humbled to serve as Council President. One of my first actions will be to create an online public comment procedure that will allow citizens to submit comments directly to the Council on particular agenda items. Further, I have completed Councilor Liaison assignments to the various boards, committees and commissions. The Appointments Committee, which is a standing committee, shall be brought to the full council as a resolve to be voted on by the entire body at our first meeting this year. Ad hoc committees will also be formed to review Town Council Rules, Compensation and Town Manager performance.
A Private Roads Committee will be resurrected to thoroughly examine the complex and costly challenge of repair, upgrade and taking of privately owned roads. No other issue has lodged more comments and complaints than that of public and private roads. With nearly 500 miles of roads; 271 public and the remaining privately owned, this issue is certainly a challenge and the committee will need to wrestle with the dilemma of how to best balance the competing requests for improvements with the realities of a finite budget.
There is a lot to undertake in the next year but I’m excited by the challenge. I look forward to working side by side with my fellow councilors to do our best to preserve and enhance our natural resources, continue to advocate for neighborhood safety and a sustainable local economy, all the while encouraging civic engagement and a strong sense of community. Let’s make 2014 a year to remember!
Please take the opportunity to stop by and discuss any Village or Town issue with me at the Cotuit Library on the second Wednesday of every month from 3-5pm; no appointment is necessary. The next scheduled meeting is January 8th. If you cannot make my meeting I can always be reached at 508-360-2504, through the Town Council office at 508-862-4738 or via email I look forward to hearing from you.
Your Town Councilor, Jessica