An Open Letter on the Affordable Housing Referendum
From: Vincent Lawrence Dixon
60 Lake Street – Unit N
Winchester, Mass. 01890
The continuity and stability of Representative Democratic Government, is vital to the success of our communities and our daily lives.
In this context, as a former member of the Winchester Finance Committee, for four years, I am issuing this Open Letter to Town Meeting Members, other government officials, and the people of Winchester.
In the matter of the current Tuesday, June 22, 2021 Referendum Question, I ask that each of you, who read these words, engage and spread the word, that we must consider our vote carefully, and thoughtfully. Town Meeting Members and all of us deserve the opportunities that we have in this Special Election to not just support a particular position, but to lead, persuade our friends, neighbors, and supporters, and recognize the broader realities of stable representative government.
When those elected to office take their Oath/Affirmation Of Office, it requires that those who do so pledge their best efforts to faithfully execute the law, not just express their personal opinions. Oftentimes, in life, we may prefer to take a particular action, but learn, and understand, that we need to take a different action less desirable but more effective. The better part of ten years have experienced likely hundreds of hours of consideration, deliberation, and decision, including by our elected Town Meeting. Winchester needs to have a clear continuity of successful efforts to comply with State Law, and local needs. While some think that “a better deal” may be had regarding the Waterfield project, affordable housing efforts must be engaged and the continuity of elected (volunteer) leadership respected.
To engineer a referendum, that in effect, questions substantial work by the elected
representatives of our Town, from Town Meeting, through Select Board, and other individuals, and bodies, is unfortunate, and unneeded. While I do support public initiatives on the ballot, there has not been any substantial new information, that should cause the stoppage of the orderly, and thoughtful, work of so many of the Winchester Community. The Select Board, and the Town Meeting, still will have many opportunities to monitor, review, and engage with the ongoing efforts, in the successful forward progress of the Waterfield Project. Spending thousands of dollars, for a repetitive, and superfluous ballot question, is silly, not professional, and frankly, disrespectful to our legislative body, Town Meeting, and the many other processes that have been engaged over many years.
While many individuals, may say that they know less about this project, than they might like; if that is true, it highlights important needs for all of us. Many of us, may need to dig deeper, in spending a little more time, monitoring and reading, the Town of Winchester website, looking at the weekday daily newspaper, the Winchester Daily Times Chronicle; the weekly newspaper, the Winchester Star; and other useful, and informative sites; and more importantly, identifying these sources of information, for a wider community audience.
Although National, and State issues, are significant, and often dominate news coverage; it is the Town of Winchester, that educates our children, provides for the safety of our streets, and businesses; conducts the system of appropriate legal regulation, and enforcement; and engages the enthusiasm and energy of hundreds of local residents, in making this a lovely, quality, and distinctive community in which to live.
Excessive comment regarding potential cost increases, of possible enrollment increases, has
ignored the reality, that increases in enrollment, are not just a cost; but they can lead to increased state revenue, and the value of those students, in our community.
As we go forward, we need to be reminded of civility, courtesy, and professional standards, in all that we do.
The need to embrace rental, affordable, and improved mixed housing, is well established; and must be engaged with better enthusiasm, even if we think there are some flaws.
It has been said, in various ways, that variations of the perfect, can be the undoing of the
possible. We must not, spend so much time ‘getting it right,’ that we do not get much done at all.
The symbolic success of the Waterfield Project, as now largely conceived of, is not just
important on its own, but in building a series of confident measures, to genuinely try to reach compliance with the 10% Affordable Housing Standards.
In carefully considering these various factors, I ask everyone to support a YES vote on Tuesday, June 22, 2021, and to urge everyone they know, to do so, as well.
Much has been learned in this process, that can strengthen future projects, which we must seek, to engage with, and advance, in coming years, with professional spirit, and mutual respect.
Vincent Lawrence Dixon is a working Historian, and civic activist. He may be reached at: