Alison Alessi and fellow members of the Barnstable Renewable Energy Commission made a special appearance at Barnstable Town Council June 7.
“We just learned 48 hours ago that the council is voting to review our commission,” Alessi, the commission's chairman, said during public comment period. “I’ve been on the commission for nine years, and we’ve accomplished a lot. We play an important role in driving energy issues forward for our time.”
Alessi said she and her fellow committee members had just attended a collaborative regional meeting, and it was pretty embarrassing to have to leave to defend their own mission.
And she’s not the only one ruffled by the council’s current inventory of Barnstable's 40-plus volunteer committees. Five are up for review or possible repeal in an effort to eliminate duplication.
“Who do you see will take on these tasks?” asked Kris Clark, a member of the Land Acquisition and Preservation Committee chaired by Ann Canedy, a former councilor herself.
Canedy's committee met June 11. The news of its limbo status tempered the celebration of its members' most recent accomplishment: clearing and marking Cape Cod Pathways trails in Barnstable in cooperation with AmeriCorps and the Barnstable Land Trust.
“There’s no replacing a citizen committee,” Canedy said. “The citizens are at the top of this pyramid. I’m going to fight this decision.”
Restoration of Bridge Creek trails and boardwalks, ongoing Santuit Preserve management, and months of scrutinizing the town's Open Space and Recreation Plan are also among the committee’s recent positive contributions, Canedy noted.
“It’s okay to review committees, but we need to talk to the committees,” Councilor Paul Hebert cautioned his fellow councilors at the June 7 meeting.
“I feel like there’s been a death in the family,” said Farley Lewis, vice chair of the Land Acquisition and Preservation Committee. “There’s not enough staff to handle what we do.”
“We’re sort of the boots on the ground,” said committee member Janet Crystal. “It’s a cohesive group that’s on the same wavelength.”
Councilor Jessica Rapp-Grassetti thanked Canedy for her leadership and reminded members that the council has not yet voted on the decision to repeal their committee's charge.
“I hope you do come to the meeting and express your concerns,” she said.
Town council's next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 21, at 7 p.m. at Barnstable Town Hall.