Criticism Of Committee Is Unfair - Letter

Your August 8 editorial, “The Life Span Of Advisory Committees” contains factual errors that have resulted in unfair criticism of the affordable housing committee (AHC). The editorial states: “Recently, the affordable housing citizens roundtable planning subcommittee was formed. It is ostensibly a subcommittee of the affordable housing committee but it is led by the assistant town planner and most of the membership is not from the affordable housing committee…. [W]hat happened to the affordable housing committee and why is it not doing the work?”

There is no such entity as “the affordable housing citizens roundtable planning subcommittee.” The Enterprise has created a nonexistent hybrid from two distinct groups—the citizens advisory committee (CAC) and the affordable housing committee’s roundtable planning subcommittee (roundtable subcommittee”). The roundtable subcommittee and the CAC have separate histories and separate goals.

The roundtable subcommittee was established in 2010 by the AHC to plan a public discussion of Falmouth’s housing needs and the role of housing as a determinant of  Falmouth’s future. I have been chairman of the subcommittee since its inception.

Almost every member of the AHC has participated in the work of the subcommittee. In addition, Anne Saganic, executive director of the Falmouth Housing Trust, and Michael Galasso, chairman of the Economic Development and Industrial Corporation (EDIC), have participated in the subcommittee.

In 2012, the affordable housing committee received a grant from the town’s affordable housing fund to hire a consultant to identify Falmouth’s housing needs and recommend strategies for meeting those needs. RKG Associates was selected as the consultant. Judi Barrett of RKG has been working on a Housing Demand Report.

The citizens advisory committee was created by the planning department in the winter of 2014 to provide that department with public feedback on drafts of the Housing Demand Report. Assistant town planner Marlene McCollem has been leading CAC discussions because the planning department oversees the contract with the consultant. 

Ms. Barrett will present a summary of the Housing Demand Report at the housing roundtable on Wednesday, October 1, starting at 7 PM in the Hermann Room at the main library. Her report will be followed by a panel discussion, comments from community leaders and questions and comments from the audience.Mindy Todd, host of WCAI’s “The Point,” will be the moderator for the housing roundtable. The public is welcome to attend and participate in the housing roundtable.

The consultant’s report and an executive summary will be available online and in a variety of public places well before the housing roundtable. The roundtable subcommittee hopes that the editor of the Enterprise and his staff will join us and be part of the roundtable discussion.

Sylvia L. Szulkin
Chairman, AHC Roundtable
Planning Subcommittee
Summer Wind Lane
North Falmouth

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