By Steve Kelman

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BREAKING NEWS: Concord Town Meeting Chooses Fields over Forest

An all-time record attendance at a town meeting in Concord, Mass., (more than 1,700 people, out of a total town population of 15,000) met for more than four hours tonight -- I just got home -- to reconsider the issue of building new athletic fields on high school land that is at the edge of the so-called Walden Woods that surround Walden Pond, where Henry David Thoreau lived for a year to get back to nature. The elected representative town bodies (the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee) had both voted unanimously in favor of the plan. The Historic District Commission stated that this area of the Walden Woods, which is divided from the rest of the woods and from Walden Pond by a major highway, was not of great historical significance.

Nonetheless, there was some very emotional opposition, including cracking voices, not the least from people who recently moved to the town because of its natural surroundings and historic charm. "I moved to Concord from the Midwest," said one woman who described that region as one where "the car is a temple" and people are afraid of trees. "Do we here in Concord really want to emulate the Midwest?" she asked. Stated another opponent, "Someone, sometime needs to stop taking down woods." A third said, "We need an environmental revolution, and Concord is a great place to start." One participant noted that National Public Radio had run a segment on the battle of Concord and mentioned an e-mail from a friend in Wisconsin asking, "How could Concord do this?" A number of people, referred to Thoreau not as Tho-ROW the way others say it, but using the local pronunciation THO-row.

In the end, the playing fields won, 1,300 to 400.

As I was leaving, I heard somebody in the parking lot saying "After all the controversy over the last vote, it was nice to have the vote tonight, so everything was clear and the opponents can accept the will of the majority."

Something here for politics in Washington?

Posted by Steve Kelman on Jun 13, 2007 at 12:08 PM


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