Shanna Fishel: Questions decision-making process

  • Blooming cherry trees on Warfield Place. Gazette file photo

Published: 7/19/2021 2:03:54 PM

How are decisions made in our community? What is happening to the cherry trees on Warfield Place and Northampton’s municipal response to all the residents of Warfield and over 2,000 others who signed a petition opposing the repaving plan, is just one example of the city yielding its unchecked power.

I consider the trees, like the land, air and water, to be community members, who have stakes in our actions. Since July 12, the trees are not only community members, but are ordained Zen priests. The trees are part of nature, providing shade, joy and hope. They do not pose any ADA obstacles, as detailed by community members during public comments at the last City Council meeting.

Yet, despite public outcry in opposition of cutting them down, the outgoing mayor and the DPW are plowing forward, citing state law and city policies to reason with their plans. “The trees are public shade trees … under the care and custody of no other entity than the city of Northampton,” said DPW Director Donna LaScaleia.

While public employees briefly communicated plans on Warfield Place, what is the use of communication if the people’s voices are not considered? Are municipal decisions as untouchable as corporate personhood? It appears many municipal decisions are made without genuine input from the public, with minimal democratic participatory processes taking place.

This is happening, too, to the homeless encampment under South Street Bridge, and in the Main Street redesign process. When city plans are brought to public discussion, a resolute decision appears to already be in motion. Do we want Northampton to be an example of representation of power or to uphold the power of representation? Let’s end up on the right side of treestory.

Shanna Fishel

Leeds




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