Ward 7 Councilor Towle off ers parting thoughts
Marlborough - City Councilor Richard Towle is bowing out after serving his second term as Ward 7 councilor in Marlborough. With six months to go before his term expires, Towle has announced this term will be his last.
"I have enjoyed it," Towle said. "I have enjoyed working with the other councilors and city heads and other officials."
But the city councilor is not leaving without off ering some advice for the city.
"One of the things I wish had been done while I was on the council was to have a full-time city planner," Towle said.
He added he believes the city spends too much time reacting to financial problems and not enough time developing a vision.
"I think that one of the things we need to do more of is long-range planning," Towle explained. "We seem to be doing crisis management and doing short-term goals and not taking care of our future."
Towle also said the city would benefit by having fulltime grant writer, who could help supplement the city budget.
Towle pointed to a recent decision in the City Council as one he would have liked to reverse. The council voted down a proposal to authorize a bond worth $41 million dollars to pay for an upgrade to the westerly wastewater treatment plant. Councilors were concerned there was no design plan for the construction yet in place. By voting down the measure, the city missed out on a $10 million low-interest loan it had solicited from the state. The vote, Towle said, was the wrong action to take.
"Authorizing a bond for $41 million doesn't mean you have to spend it all," Towle said. "I don't understand the logic behind not getting money more cheaply when it's there to be had, and take a gamble that maybe it'll be there next year."
The city will apply for the same low-interest loan next year, but city officials have said it is less likely to receive the money, because competition from other cities and towns in the state will be greater.
Towle pointed to the proposed sale of the old fire station on Main Street as a positive for the city, but not without potential costs.
"No matter what happens with it, I think at least half the people will be unhappy about it," Towle said.
The Operations and Oversight Committee voted June 25 to approve the sale of the former station to a private firm, WRT Management, for $850,000.
"I wanted the city to maintain a first right of refusal so the city can get it back for their own space needs," Towle said, but there is currently no such provision in place in case WRT sells it at a later date.
Towle said he was pleased with his service on the council, but he is looking forward to having more free time. His City Council work takes an average of about 10 hours a week, he said. He said he would like to spend more time volunteering, especially with the Lions Club and the Citizen's Scholarship Foundation in Marlborough.
"After December I'll have a lot of extra time," he explained.
Towle said he would miss working with other city officials and the residents.
"I've got a new respect for the work that departments do in the city," he said. "Unless you see them up close and in action and see what their jobs are, the average person doesn't get to see that."
Any successor to Towle can likely expect to spend $3,000 or more running for his seat.
"You either raise it or spend it out of your own pocket," Towle said. "It's difficult to raise it at the ward level."
He said he has enjoyed being in politics, but it has its own rules.
"When I announced my decision to step down to my friends and supporters, they tried to talk me out it," Towle said. "But the time to leave is when they want you to stay," he observed.
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