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Bill Pula: More volunteers needed on public boards

To the editor:

I have noticed when reading the Gazette lately that local groups seem fixated upon trendy environmental causes that are really just a distraction. There are real needs in our communities that require committed volunteers to take on the concrete tasks to improve or maintain local resources. But that takes real work, not just screaming no.

One such group is decrying carefully thought-out forest management on the Northampton watershed, that employs local loggers to produce renewable organic products.

Yet, another group wants to ban fracking in Pelham, a hill town with no deep sedimentary rock deposits that lend themselves to natural gas.

While these well-intentioned groups focus on these issues, towns go begging for members of local Boards of Health, Planning Boards, ZBAs and other committees.

These are not trendy positions addressing the latest, hot button topic. They require volunteers who deal with real local environmental issues and take long-term commitments to try and solve problems for your community. These meeting are at night can be long and sometimes boring usually after a long day at work.

That’s just an opinion by an 18-year member of the Pelham Board of Health, saving the world one septic system at a time.

Bill Pula


The writer is the chairman of the Pelham Board of Health.

Legacy Comments4

Bringing private citizens together in the spirit of civic collaboration is at the very heart of a thriving community and democracy. I'm sure that we need more of the kind of volunteerism you suggest here all over the valley. It's just a pity that you had to propose it in such a way that intentionally alienates people who are invested in "trendy issues," and makes them less likely to want to sit through those long boring meetings with you. Unless, of course, it was your intention to discourage those kinds of people from working with you.

People that want to ban fracking in Pelham or all logging on public lands are reacting to environmental issues from an emotional rather than rational scientific basis. They really are not much use on a Board of Health or Conservation Commission they won't last dealling with real geology or ecology issues that decide where stormwater treament should be located or how to protect wells from poorly located septic systems. That means reading and understanding road construction plans or nitrogen reducing SAS systems.

Silly me. I thought that someone in a position like chairman of board of health would feel an obligation to educate people he disagrees with rather than categorically dismiss them.

All i'm saying is there are real issues in towns that have to be dealt with and it's the same dozen or so people that do all the work. My job is to help my nieghbor figure where they can put a new septic system so it doesn't screw up their well. The Con Com is trying to work with Mass DOT to fix Amherst Rd without polluting The local brooks. If you want to learn about real issues start going to the meetings.

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