Newbury Town Hall Fight

Tuesday February 14, 2023

The current Newbury Town Hall, Rt. 1A, Newbury, MA

NEWBURY – Politics are heating to a boil here this spring with an upcoming Town Meeting on April 25 where residents are expected to spar over the proposed new, multi-million-dollar Town Hall.
The Board of Selectmen election will follow on May 9 where two seats will be filled.
Three former and current Selectmen wrote a public letter last week that called on residents to vote against the proposed “campus” town hall that may cost between $11 million and $14 million.
Former Select Board members Dr. Vincent Russo and Michael Doyle joined Geraldine Heavey, who announced she will run again for the Select Board, wrote: “It is no surprise that the town employees want you to lock in the funding for their new offices before they ask for money for our kids and fire protection.”
They urged Town Meeting members to vote for keeping the town offices at Kent Way off Interstate 95, which “can be done with little or no impact to our taxes” and put “our hard-earned tax dollars to better use to meet our public safety and our children’s education needs.”
The town, through its Municipal Building Committee, has been moving forward with plans to create a new municipal campus on the site of the former Town Hall building, fire station and police station.
The much-needed new police station has been completed. The town is considering constructing a new fire station.
The Select Board election is likely to be highly contested with feelings running high in town or social media sites about the future direction the town will take.
Heavey, an attorney, who was elected in 2019 with the highest vote that year for a select person, said she is not running for reelection “because I am tired of being treated like a mushroom.”
She wrote that her term on the Select Board has been challenging, “more challenging than my 14 years on the Melrose Board of Aldermen where despite 11 strong personalities, we all treated each other with civility, respect and inclusivity; more challenging than my time working in Roxbury District Court as supervising attorney for the public defenders’ office, where opposing counsel did not play legal games with the facts or hide them. In Roxbury I saw advocacy without animosity or it turning personal.”
She wrote that she hoped her successor would not be a “rubber stamp for the town’s administration.”
“I hope while on the board,” she wrote, “I have asked the questions that needed to be asked and in so doing have given some transparency to the issues and shed some light onto the dark places that exist within the board.”

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