Councilor Column

Written by Jessica Rapp Grassetti                                      

So much for escaping winter and having it quietly pass us by! As much as we could have done without Juno’s wrath, we were fortunate that most of us did not lose power, internet or phone service. The driving ban, implemented by the Governor was a great help in managing the blizzard of 2015 and with spring but forty-nine days away hopefully winter has lost its grip.

In February the Cape Cod Commission will hold a two-day meeting continuing with the update of the Area Wide Water Quality Management Plan also called the 208. The primary focus of which is to address excessive nitrogen entering our embayments, will bring together the region’s policy makers in an effort to collaborate in local water quality planning. In my opinion, the single biggest issues that this summit will address are the costs and the revenue needed to protect and preserve our quality of life. Hopefully this effort will produce substantive results as much has been talked about for a long time and an argument can be made that it is time for action. Unfortunately, if we don’t move ahead we may well find the Federal Government forcing our hand. I welcome any input on this complicated and sensitive challenge.

As the President of the Town Council it is my responsibility to vote on behalf of Barnstable with regards to resolutions proposed at the recent Massachusetts Municipal Association’s Annual Meeting. There three resolutions accepted were; investments in municipal capital projects that create economic growth and the protection of health & safety, ensuring strong partnership in FY 2016 and beyond between State Government and the Cities and Towns and a sustainable personnel management system to provide excellent services by prudent use of taxpayer dollars managed at the local level. This last resolution brings up the issue of what is called unfunded mandates. These are regulations that require the Town to provide goods and or services without having a revenue stream to cover them. For instance, a sizable obligation for a coastal community is the regulations on storm water systems. Barnstable is required to maintain over four thousand catch basins for storm-water run-off from roads at a cost in excess of $80,000 a year. For the Town to continue to maintain and provide these mandated services without adequate funding is unacceptable. We need to be clear with our Legislators that we cannot afford to accept these mandates without requisite funding.

Deteriorating infrastructure continues to create enormous pressure on the local taxpayer. We can thank the newly elected Governor for releasing the entire $300 million dollars in Chapter 90 transportation aid funding. Barnstable’s increased share, in excess of a million dollars, will certainly help in addressing the numerous projects from road repair, equipment purchases, engineering services and even tree planting within our community.

Focusing on Precinct 7, I would very much appreciate any citizen concerns regarding our Village. Every year the Town’s Department Heads do an onsite tour to identify and respond to safety and quality of life issues and the 2015 “List of Cotuit Concerns” is in the process of being drafted. I have my own list but welcome and need input from all. A major issue of pedestrian safety along our roads will have a follow up meeting in March or April at Freedom Hall. Planning efforts are underway for crosswalks and “traffic calming”. Draft regulations are in process by the Waterways Committee regarding the size and storage of vessels at Ropes beach. Simply put, there isn’t enough room for everyone to store any sized boat on the water’s edge. Let me know your thoughts. There is still time for public comment and suggestions regarding this issue.

Soon, the many efforts, lead by Jaci Barton and her team from the Barnstable Land Trust will come before the Town Council for a vote on the appropriation of funds for the acquisition of land surrounding Lowell Park. The first reading, on February 5, will give the public notice of the project to protect the 19 acres and the second reading will be open for public comment. This preservation project is arguably one of the most important quality of life and environment acquisitions for the Village. I unequivocally support it and urge my fellow citizens to do the same.

Please take the opportunity to stop by and discuss any Village or Town issue on the second Wednesday of every month from 3-5pm at the Cotuit Library. The next scheduled meeting is February 11. You may also reach me anytime at (508) 360-2504 or weekdays at Town Hall (508) 862-4738. Email Precinct7@comcast.net or for web updates and information follow me at www.BarnstablePrecinct7.com. I look forward to your questions and concerns and always welcome your suggestions and ideas! Be sure to check on your neighbors and friends and keep your pets safe too!

Your Town Councilor, Jessica

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