Seeking to maintain its relative independence, the Wellesley Natural Resources Commission (NRC) said this week it will offer amendments to the Town Government Study Committee (TGSC) proposal for a rejiggered town government set-up featuring a powerful town manager as well as a new Planning and Land Management Division. The TGSC proposals will be considered at a Special Town Meeting that kicks off on Nov. 2 — and could last for a while.
“The structure proposed by the TGSC would place the NRC several layers down in the Town organizational chart, under the Board of Selectmen, the Town Manager, and a Deputy Town Manager. We are deeply concerned that this structure will compromise the independence of the NRC and restrict our ability to execute our environmental mission,” NRC Vice Chair Lise Olney said in a statement.
But it’s not as if the NRC is totally against Wellesley moving away from an Executive Director to a Town Manager. In fact, Olney says: : “We wholeheartedly support the concept of a town manager and would like to follow the example of other towns, such as Brookline, Winchester, and Weston, that have very effective town managers who work in collaboration with independent elected boards. In looking at comparable towns, it’s clear there is no one-size-fits-all structure for town government.”
The five-member NRC board will ask Town Meeting to allow the Commission “to remain as an independent elected board and department, similar in status to the School Committee and the Municipal Light Plant.”
The NRC says it was created in 1977 in response to public dissatisfaction over how open space was managed in Wellesley.
The Wellesley Free Library Board of Trustees and Wellesley Board of Health are also seeking to amend the TGSC proposals, which have generally been blessed by the Board of Selectmen.
(Disclaimer: I’m a member of the NRC’s Trails Committee, though was not involved in discussion of the above amendments.)