“Yikes!” says New Chair Upon Election

Irene Wrenner

April 6, 2021

The Essex Selectboard welcomed newly-elected member Tracey Delphia to its virtual table and elected new officers for the coming year at its April 5th meeting.

 

Delphia, like past new members, was elected Clerk, Pat Murray as Vice Chair and Andy Watts as Chair, after which he uttered the phrase, “Yikes!”

 

His exclamation was premature. Moments of surprise and disgust followed, as several public members offered stinging criticism of his past performance as a Selectboard member, including his distribution of information on Front Porch Forum, after he had received his peers’ permission to post a dissenting opinion townwide.

 

After a half-hearted call to resign from Annie Cooper, she asked Selectboard members to not be on the fence with regard to Merger. Watts responded, as he has repeatedly in the past year, that he supports the concept of merger but not this plan.

 

Murray, acknowledging that he respects the right of the public to speak, noted “Andy has been chair for all of 5 minutes.” He asked the public to avoid “petty, personal attacks” that may be crossing the line.

 

Speaking of crossing a line, Heart & Soul of Essex has a new photo story initiative called “Across the Dotted Line”, meant to foster community connections, in the midst of struggles to define how our communities will look in the future. It calls for pairs of TOV/Village residents to share photos and stories of commonality.  

 

As more residents traverse the border, they may gain awareness about the geographic diversity in our 39 square mile town, although Murray dismissed that diversity when he mused, “No one in the NEK would say any part of Essex was rural.”

 

The board approved new liquor licenses for The Scale Essex on Pearl Street and the Barnyard, to be opened on David Drive early next month. Existing first, second and third class licenses were also renewed.

Public Works Director Dennis Lutz asked the board to reconstitute the Town/Village Stormwater Coordinating Committee. It will make recommendations and guide the Joint Boards regarding millions of dollars to be spent to keep phosphorus out of our waterways. Delphia was appointed to represent the Selectboard on that committee.

 

The Selectboard conducted its annual review of policies for conducting business. Tracey Delphia proposed, and the board adopted, language restricting the use of technology during meetings to only the topics at hand. This change would prevent the distracted behavior exhibited by prior Selectboard Chair Elaine Haney, while members of her own board, as well as the public, were speaking on March 25th.

 

An avowed fan of its medicinal properties, Vince Franco was appointed to the Cannabis Study Committee. 

 

As part of member comments, Watts acknowledged meeting with Murray to discuss ways to bridge the divide brought on by this latest merger effort. Possible sharing of Chair duties on specific topics was floated.

 

Despite the impending merger and separation votes, after an executive session the Selectboard authorized the Town Manager to execute a Union contract that will run through 2024.

4/5/21 Selectboard Meeting

Newly-elected SB Chair Andy Watts and Vice Chair Pat Murray pose with the ballots they’ve been collating for the April election mailing, as part of the new photo initiative by Heart & Soul, “Across the Dotted Line.”