It’s a twisted saga that appears to go back more than a year and involves former Wilmington Zoning Administrator Alice Herrick as well as four members of the DRB. Those four volunteer officials, one who has served for 22 years and an other for nine, have resigned due to the selectboard’s actions. Herrick, who has sued the town over the handling of her 2013 reappointment, had already turned in her resignation last month.
Reporter Jack Deming tries to lay out the facts as best we have them in this week’s front page article. Deming used some freedom of information requests to ask for copies of emails sent by the selectboard members and the town manager. His story was pieced together from those emails, along with numerous conversations with many of the players involved.
The two things we take away from the whole mess are that there has been a serious lack of communication between the selectboard and the DRB, and a lack of transparency in the way the selectboard conducted the whole process.
Transparency and communication. Those two concepts appear to be in short supply.
The biggest question we have continually asked is why? More precisely, to what end?
That is something the selectboard has yet to articulate. Was it retribution for DRB chair Nicki Steel’s public records request? Was it the feeling that the DRB process wasn’t working? Was it something else? The public deserves to know.
Sure, selectboard members will say the DRB members, and Herrick, resigned of their own accord. This is true. But the groundwork was laid through a series of actions that pushed and pulled to the point where people were frustrated, and felt resigning was the only course of action.
We’re still trying to make sense of it all. We know all of the players involved, and know that, all of them care deeply about their community and the work they perform for it: DRB members, selectboard members, and officials. But, as we said above, there has been a big breakdown in communication and transparency. Because of those breakdowns, this whole process is tainted. That’s unfortunate, and leaves the selectboard with the task of rebuilding the public’s confidence in their actions, in the next group of DRB members they appoint, and in the next zoning administrator.
That rebuild starts with a straightforward answer to a simple question: Why?