The recent Town Meeting attracted one of the largest number of Littleton Residents to any Town meeting in recent memory. As impressive as that was, the other important feature of the turnout was who was there. According to my back of the envelope estimate: families of all types and sizes, the young, the not so young, renters, large and small property owners, business owners, the well off and the not so well off, and recent and longtime residents of town were represented in force and consistent with government census and demographic data about Littleton. What they voted for will impact the town for years. This is how it should be.
In contrast, the turnout is not nearly as large for the various Forums and Events designed and intended to obtain input for the update of the Town’s Master Plan. Those who do show up represent a much narrower demographical grouping than attended the Town Meeting. This is not unusual. Town Meetings and Forums are not alike. Maybe folks think that a plan has no teeth. Maybe the absence of a simple up or down secret ballot vote on alternatives is part of the lack of participation. There is no fault finding here and there is no value in finding a pathway to lay blame.
The residents who do attend the Forums and other MPUSC events have and continue to contribute what they see as priorities, problems that need attention, things that are working well, and solutions to issues arising. These residents have given up their evening hours, and more, to contribute and help. Their input has and will continue to be relied upon and taken quite seriously in preparing the plan for the Planning Board.
What does matter is how best to use the expressed views from both Town Meetings and the MPUSC events. Thus, do take a look at the outputs of the MPUSC events and the various items voted up or down at Town Meetings in the last few years. Where there is agreement is just as important as where there is divergence. Do the votes taken in Town Meetings provide a credible reflection of priorities? The course of action the Town pursues should have a plan that residents have shaped for themselves. Here are two sources, at least, for a plan of action.
- Mike Zeldin, Littleton Master Plan Update Steering Committee Member