Government in Action – Parents’ Concern Bring Quick Results from the Town Council

Friday, February 18, 2011
By Transcript Staff

Tuesday’s Town Council meeting certainly got off to a dramatic start when Winthrop parent Scott Kinsella addressed the council about the traffic situation at the Gorman Fort Banks School during drop-off and pick-up times. Kinsella’s general point, in his words, was, “The Department of Public Works staff is commuting into, and out of, the DPW headquarters” during the hours when parents were dropping off or picking up their children from school. The DPW headquarters is located across the road from the Fort Banks School.

Kinsella’s remarks came during the public speaking forum of the meeting which is usually limited to five minutes per speaker. But Council President Jeffrey Turco wisely used his discretion and allowed the entire discussion to ensue for the next 75 minutes. After hearing well-thought out remarks from Mr. Kinsella and other parents, the Council  came to the conclusion (albeit after a bit of tension when one councilor felt the Council’s action on the issue might be in violation of the Open Meeting Law, though Turco moved the issue forward) and determined that the DPW staff would not use the road during the time that parents are dropping off or picking up their students from school.

Kinsella had presented a petition from parents requesting the Council to do something to alleviate the traffic situation, a problem that came to a head during last Friday’s evacuation of the school. Kinsella and the parents in the room and those watching the meeting at home on WCAT had to be pleased with the Council’s quick action on the matter. President Turco and the Council (notably Councilor James Letterie, who was clear that he didn’t want the issue to linger) deserve credit for their immediate action on the matter. Its decision to implement the plan on Feb. 28, after the school vacation, shows that the Council understood the potential dangerousness for schoolchildren if the present situation were to continue.

Scott Kinsella came to the Council meeting well-prepared and maintained his cool even when it looked his concerns might not be addressed. But this was democracy and town government at its best and the Council had the best interests of the Fort Banks parents and schoolchildren as their motivation for their action.

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