Shanna Fishel: Questions about the decision-making process
Posted: 07/19/2021 14:03:54 PM
How are decisions made in our community? What is happening to the cherry trees on Warfield Place, and Northampton’s municipal response to all residents of Warfield and over 2,000 others who have signed a petition opposing the repaving plan, is just one example of the town that cedes its uncontrolled power.
I see trees, like land, air and water, as members of the community, who have a stake in our actions. Since July 12, the trees are not only members of the community, but are ordained Zen priests. Trees are part of nature, providing shade, joy and hope. They pose no obstacle to ADA, as detailed by community members in public comments at the last city council meeting.
Yet despite public outcry over their removal, the outgoing mayor and the DPW are moving forward, citing state law and city policies as the reason for their plans. “The trees are public shade trees… in the care and custody of no other entity than the City of Northampton,” said DPW Director Donna LaScaleia.
While officials briefly communicated their plans to Warfield Place, what is the use of communication if people’s voices are not heeded? Are municipal decisions as untouchable as legal personality? It seems that many municipal decisions are taken without real public input, with a minimum of democratic participatory processes.
This is also happening in the homeless settlement under the South Street Bridge and in the Main Street redevelopment process. When city plans come up for public debate, a resolute decision already seems to be in motion. Do we want Northampton to be an example of representational power or to maintain representational power? Let’s finish on the right side of TreeStory.