Had about enough? Your not alone.
After reading though various Patch blogs and comments, and spending a great deal of free time doing so, I've come to a conclusion. Residents are frustrated, and are about to start fighting back.
I began my "investigation" after hearing residents frustrations at town sanctioned monthly meetings. I regularly sit in on town meetings to keep up with local politics, typically never contributing my two sense, but there to hear and understand the voice of the public. Call it nosey, but it beats watching the news. But where to start? I decided to tackle what I considered the most difficult, Wilmington Planning and Conservation, or what a resident described as "An absolute nightmare filled with one-way roads leading to nowhere. A vacuum of one sided, uneducated opinions, from which there is no escape. Just physically and mentally painful".
Yikes. "Just one opinion" I thought. I was wrong. Next stop, Conservation meeting. These meeting are held monthly for those interested in seeing what too much free times buys you. I personally attended 5 meetings which surprisingly, I left scratching my head. Not because of the Conservations overall objective, but the manner in which they choose to address reaching those objectives. I am a firm advocate of following the rules, but I am also a firm advocate of enforcing them properly. Enter, Conservation Commission. Pray, your not called.
Lets get one thing out of the way, if there where a poster child for keeping our planet as undisturbed, and as naturally beautiful as possible, Wilmington Dave (Me) would be the ideal candidate. There is nothing worse than trash on the street, malicious destruction of nature, and people who don't give a damn. I believe that's a given for everybody. However, human beings are living, breathing, eating, reproducing, consumption machines. The hard truth is expansion (including into wetlands) is necessary in all facets of life, for all species, in order to evolve.
Time to land the plane. The Wilmington Conservation does not care you pay taxes, own YOUR property, and clearly never heard "This land is my land". Sit through a 4 hour meeting, and you'll think your land, is their land. They have one objective, stop encroachment on the wetlands, and boy do they ever. Not only do they do their job well, they do so while perfectly executing to remove feeling, emotion and regardless of situational outcome, seem too, and will do anything to piss you off. Its like clock work at every meeting. A plus conserverting the wetlands, F minus on delivery.
Cue the interviews. Post meetings I began asking for residents opinions. Don the filter- Verbal backlash suited for the truck stop from resident, after resident, after resident. Backlash SO strong, it could be a trending twitter topic. My interviews went further. I spoke with more residents who've had conservation issues as well as local builders, engineers, wetlands specialist, major corporations, you name it, I called them. I wanted to get to the bottom of this, see whats crawling in the dark if you will.
I stop asking questions after 100 "interviews." First on the list, Target Cooperation. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the project, Target is interested in building a retail store off of exit 41 on Ballardville St. A Representative for Target Cooperation stated "Its been somewhat of a battle..." "We've spent a countless amount of money with one of the States best engineering firms to layout a beautiful store for customers. We hire engineers to design a site that meets State and Federal wetland laws that we spend countless hours explaining to people (Conservation) who are the furthest thing from Engineers. If we knew in the beginning of this project the people we would be dealing with and the amount of work involved to sneak in an approval, the possibility of a Wilmington location would have been a very different story" Apparently, Wilmington does not need the tax revenue from major business. Maybe a few more gas stations in north Wilmington could fill the void. RJ O'connel, a Stoneham based engineering firm hired for the design of the site, was inundated with hours of what seemed like ridiculous questions from the Commission during its November meeting with conservation. There was Obvious frustration from the Engineer who was representing the firm.
What about the Residents? I can say this much for them, they are being forced to spend money on their land and personal time to address issues that need not be addressed to fulfill the needs of a Commission that from almost unanimously response from those surveyed, are unpleasant, rude, discourteous, and intentionally harass residents to the point of surrender, to feed thier own agendas and egos.
Winifred McGowan, Assistant Director of Planning and Conservation, seems to be the leading force in the "War against residents." Of the people surveyed, 93% mentioned her by name and added the experience with her was "all but friendly." It was my belief the Town Officers are selected to assist the community, but according to those surveyed, her agenda is somewhat different. A Glen Road resident stated "Shes quick to jump all over a guy and questions his need to build a hockey rink for his two sons, but first in line to support the building of a 80 million dollar high school located in a flood plain and surround by 30 yr old soil contaminated from oil tanks buried under the fields. Have another one lady." Winfired, a Lexington resident who was conveniently unavailable for comment, is allegedly being petitioned for removal from office by a few steadfast residents. Perhaps now would be the time for her to focus her efforts on her own town and not ours. The petition has allegedly been slowly circling the town and has gathered over 1000 signatures, however, I was not able to personally track down its location.
An unnamed Wilmington resident denied for a pool permit by the conservation, who is also a 5 year Veteran and medically discharged from US Army stated "The commission is a house full of hypocrisy. They wear gold jewelry that was mined in some of the most pristine forests of the world. They live in wood houses milled from rain forests. Drive cars that pollute the atmosphere, and live in a State who's capital, one of the most beautiful cities in the country, was built on what was once a wetland. Ive served my time to defend my country and my land who's selected, not elected, 'respreseatives' have somehow earned the right to tell me how to live on it. I want a pool that is in a flood plane. What a disaster it would be if my fresh water pool leaked into a contaminated abutting freshwater wetland. There is something horribly wrong with this picture. Who do they believe that they are. Id rather be back in Iraq." Strong words. What alarmed my the most is they way he stated he was treated. Shewed out the door, given partial information, made to hire engineers, and work for months on a permit that was quickly denied at a town meeting when no one was present to argue against the ruling. "Its easy to talk about someone when they are not standing nose to nose with you, if you know what I mean" said the resident regarding their decision.
The complaint list goes pretty deep- Falsified laws, trespassing, harassment, unlawful fines, and on and on. And so the statement remains, "Aggravated with Wilmington? You'll never guess who's on your side.." well it seems everyone.
Attn: Conservation Department. When you hold an elected office position, its important to keep the people paying your salary happy, and from almost unanimous decision, your failing. Its my very strong opinion that citizens have a very strong say on what they do with the land they own, to an extent. At that very fine line, and only at that very fine line, should others (conservation) be able to tell them how to live on what they own. It doesn't sound like the town residents are asking to run oil pipelines through the wetlands and dump them in the Merrimack, they are asking for help, not the middle finger.
PLEASE REMEMBER, this is nothing more than opinion, and a place to hear your complaints. Let me know if something is bothering you, I'd be glad to investigate on your behalf. Thanks for Reading !