Shrewsbury Candidate Statement – Select Board – Beth Casavant (Incumbent)

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Shrewsbury Candidate Statement – Select Board – Beth Casavant (Incumbent)
Beth Casavant

Please provide a brief biographical background on yourself. What should voters know about you?

Since moving to Shrewsbury in 2008, I have been active in my chosen community. I served as a Trustee of the Shrewsbury Public Library, am an elected Town Meeting Member in my precinct and am President of the Shrewsbury Rotary Club.

I have been involved in several town-wide initiatives, serving as a member of the campaign committee to renovate and expand the Shrewsbury Public Library, as the campaign manager for Community Supporters for Shrewsbury, and as a campaign strategist for Community Supporters for Beal and Community Supporters for Public Safety, helping to organize successful debt exclusion campaigns to build a new elementary school and a new police station respectively.

I serve as the Tournament Director for a local charity golf tournament, helping to raise critical funds for Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services, St. Anne’s Human Services and Westborough Food Pantry.

I graduated from Skidmore College in 1994. I reside with my husband of 23 years, Scott, our 2 teenage daughters, 2 Havanese dogs and 3 English budgies.

Why are you running?

I am running to continue leading Shrewsbury in a way that prioritizes community engagement and focuses on improving the quality of life people experience each day. I have a proven track record of successful leadership, creative problem solving, balanced decision making, and collaboration resulting in the achievement of important goals and community driven initiatives.

I have been keenly focused on long-term financial planning, and advocated for investments in fire and police, water infrastructure, mental health resources, education and reliable municipal services.

Stability and consistency of local leadership is critical to the overall health of our community. The Select Board has changed rapidly, with three new members joining the Board since I was first elected in 2017, and another joining in May. If re-elected, I will be the senior member of the Select Board having served for six years, and possessing the experience and understanding needed to mentor new members and continue leading Shrewsbury toward a strong future.

The Beal school redevelopment is under consideration. What is your vision for downtown, and how does this project fit into this vision?

Shrewsbury’s Master Plan identifies the Town Center as an area for transformation and “a focal point for bringing the community together through social, economic, cultural and civic activities.” My vision for our Town Center is shaped by the feedback received through public forums, surveys and community meetings held on the topic, and the desire to rekindle the vibrancy of our Town Center and move beyond the vacant storefronts.

A mix of residential and commercial development is essential to breathing life back into the Town Center. I recognize the benefit of the public-private partnership in being able to shape the project and address residents’ concerns. The residential component will expand available housing opportunities for people of different ages and income levels, while the commercial space will offer a gathering place for all to enjoy.

Beal Commons is the first step in achieving the vision set forth in the Master Plan to make the former Beal School site and our Town Center “a potential focal point and destination.”

There are a number of housing projects on the horizon in Shrewsbury. What specific criteria would you weigh when considering support for a project?

Shrewsbury will attract multifamily development until the town meets the 10% affordable housing threshold set under Chapter 40B, which allows developers to override local zoning bylaws. Until 10% of our housing stock is affordable, local leaders have little room to deny or significantly modify development proposals.

I support housing projects that create affordable housing and move us closer to safe haven from future 40B projects. Through the Local Initiative Program (LIP), the Board can manage and have input into multi-family 40B housing developments.

Large multifamily housing projects in Shrewsbury are met with public resistance due to very real concerns around school crowding and the impact on infrastructure and resources. Entering into a LIP agreement is a way to have a “seat at the table” and work with a developer to address those impacts with great success.

Once 10% affordable is achieved, Shrewsbury will be able to only accept projects that meet the needs of the community as outlined in our Housing Production Plan.

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