Officials Accused of Working Against Town’s Best Interests
By Stewart Lytle, Reporter
GEORGETOWN – In his resignation letter as the town’s Conservation Agent, Steven Przyjemski accused town officials last week of conducting “an all-out attack” on the Conservation Commission (ConComm).
He also wrote, “Georgetown is being manipulated against the best interests of the town and its residents.”
Town Administrator Orlando Pacheco denied conducting “a witch hunt” against Przyjemski and the ConComm, the volunteer board that oversees the agent’s work and enforces environmental regulations.
“Mr. Przyjemski makes a number of allegations about bullying, targeting and harassment without actually describing what had actually occurred,” Pacheco wrote. His email response was accompanied by seven documents, including a timeline of events between the agent and himself.
Select Board member Amy Smith wrote: “I believe that, yes, at times, the Select Board has been in conflict with the Conservation Commission and its staff.”
“This comes from the tension that exists between environmental regulation and economic development. Environmental regulation is established by state and municipal bylaws, and the purpose of the ConComm is to uphold those. Rather than falling into the common trap of seeing regulations as obstacles, we as a Board should find a way to partner with the Commission to both create economic growth and preserve a healthy town ecology. It’s not a zero-sum game,” Smith wrote.
Smith was the only Select Board member to respond to the request by The Town Common for a comment on Przyjemski’s resignation letter.
Long-time ConComm chair Carl Shredder said earlier, “Steve was working in a hostile environment for too long.” He described it as a “sad situation” and said Przyjemski was “so stressed” that Shredder feared he would have a heart attack if he continued to work at Town Hall.
Przyjemski, the conservation agent for 17 years, filed a police report last year, claiming that Pacheco shouted at him and attempted to force open his locked office door during a heated exchange in Town Hall. The Select Board considered the report in a closed session.
Pacheco asserted that Przyjemski began claiming he was being harassed only after he was told he had to work 40 hours a week between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Przyjemski said last week that he has worked those hours “to the second” for the last six months.
“For many years the agent was leaving between 12-1pm everyday to do ‘inspections,’ but no inspection reports, scheduling documents or evidence that inspections were done have ever been provided. Even after multiple requests by both Chairman Dawes and I,” Pacheco wrote.
“Much of this started to come to my attention when Mr. Przyjemski would not meet with a resident unless it was before 1pm. Which I thought was awkward since we work much later than that,” he wrote.
Pacheco called Pryzemski’s refusal to work after 1 p.m. “disrespectful and unprofessional.” He wrote: “I am not going to allow departments to force members of the public to take their own paid time off from their jobs to accommodate staff, when staff can work to accommodate them during their working hours.”
Last year, the Board of Selectmen did not reappoint Laura Repplier and Rebecca Chane to the ConComm. Przyjemski wrote that Repplier and Chase “were treated with blatant disrespect at a Selectboard meeting, then removed for no legitimate cause, based upon unsubstantiated statements designed to serve a private agenda.” Przyjemski did not identify what the private agenda was.
Repplier had served nine years on the commission and Chane six years. One of those two vacancies has not been filled.
Pacheco wrote: “In 2022, we issued 359 Building Permits. Of those only 2 (35 Charles Street and 91 Tenney St) required action by the Commission. The insinuation that we somehow were trying to alter the business of the Commission is not supported by anything other than undocumented rants by the Conservation Agent.” Emphasis added by Pacheco.
The ConComm also denied a permit for G. Mello Trash Disposal Corp. to build a 500-ton per day facility on Carleton Drive. Mello has appealed that decision to the state Land Court.
Przyjemski said he is sure his concerns will be dismissed and ignored as complaints from an irate, disgruntled employee. “The truth is, I am concerned that the political system in Georgetown is being manipulated against the best interests of the town and its residents. I hope every resident who reads this is also ‘disgruntled.’
“The bullying, targeting and harassment at the hands of the current leadership towards the Commission is not how Town officials should be conducting themselves. The waste of hundreds of hours of staff time, and what I can only guess at being thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money for this ‘witch hunt’ is beyond count. These misstatements and unfounded accusations amount to nothing short of lying and manipulation in support of private agendas.”
In response, Pacheco wrote: “While he may want to think residents are disgruntled, the truth is Georgetown is moving in a very positive direction. Projects are moving forward, finances are in good order, and there is overall very good harmony amoungst the staff and public in getting things done.”