, Gloucester, MA

April 6, 2013

Letter: Building relationships in Rockport

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

Another rite of spring in Rockport: What will happen next on Granite Street?

A resident intends to build another breathtaking single residence home, seemingly about the size of a football field. A well-known local contractor says that the planned residence and the intended lot for construction are made for one another. No laws are being broken, because we don’t do things like that in Rockport.

So why the focus on a Planning Board meeting two evenings prior to Annual Town Meeting to consider this move? This hurry up action isn’t something that might run afoul of pending amendments to Planning Board bylaws; could this project go forward if the amendments were approved by Town Meeting? How would we in this town know?

By now, the average Rockport homeowner, the basic block in our tax structure, knows that when situations like this take place, it’s better to go along than to get along. The Planning Board consists of elected officials, thought to be put forth because of an acumen for arcane stuff like this. After all, if we elect the officials, and the officials are considered “experts,” why should us folks raise any objections?

The town can have no input concerning how friends and neighbors choose friendships. And, if such friendships develop into a sizeable business arrangement, why should the residents care?

Because, when such an arrangement grows into an “in your face” construction, there should be some degree of outrage.

Mr. Roma tells us he loves the town, brings all manner of positives when he comes to town because he provides jobs for local tradesmen, purveyors of contractor supplies, heavy equipment, etc.

Of course, if the contractor chosen just happens to be a good friend of the person behind the actual construction, shouldn’t we be grateful? Perhaps — then perhaps none of this would look slightly odd if the contractor of choice didn’t happen to be an appointed member of the Rockport Zoning Authority.

The agreeable nature of the whole project only grows sweeter when the wife of the contractor is added to the mix. It can’t hurt this kind of business arrangement when the wife-partner of the contractor just happens to be an elected member of the Board of Selectmen, and, in this case, chairs the board. Even better, since the board has recently changed its policy regarding the choosing of its officers, the arrangement could further mature.

Our selectpersons have determined that, if a sitting chair is pleased with the job, and colleagues are satisfied, why rotate the chairmanship? This game has been played with regularity over the past 10 years.

We recently read that the Batistelli family sponsors a charitable event in Beverly every year at this time. This year, the attendance was better than ever, and, wouldn’t you know, participating T-shirts were provided by Mr. Roma.

I already know those who decry this letter will claim that I insult the intelligence of the residents of Rockport, and raise an issue long ago dismissed by the state Ethics Commission. But, Mr. and Mrs. Batistelli, wouldn’t it be reasonable for one of you to sever your public position, just as an article of good faith?

I still can’t be convinced that today’s edition of Town Meeting is still the purest form of democracy. And, I don’t think our forefathers would think so, either.