While I sometimes feel like I can’t turn around in Natick without running into a Select Board member, the town’s elected executive officers want to make sure that constituents know when and where they are available at office hours.
The topic came up about 2 hours and 10 minutes into the June 28 Select Board meeting, which included an agenda item originally intended to focus on when the Board itself would meet over the remaining summer weeks. But the discussion morphed into one about office hours as well.
Board members traditionally make themselves available in person or online, including at Town Hall and the Community-Senior Center, with the five Board members taking turns. Town Hall apparently isn’t a big draw from what members said.
More recently the Board members have been taking turns appearing at the Natick Farmers Market, which takes place on Saturday mornings at Natick Common. Members say their appearances there have allowed them to share information and answer questions, though results have been mixed in terms of how much action Board members have had. Rich Sidney described his experiences as having been “active,” and that appearing regularly at the market could make people more aware that Board members will be on hand. Questions have ranged from general “what’s happening in town” inquiries to more specific ones about town street project status in a neighborhood.
Select Board member Kristen Pope said appearing at the Farmers Market is “disarming,” making people more comfortable approaching her than they would be to visit her at Town Hall. “Meeting people where they are” is key, she said.
Board Chair Bruce Evans said he’d work to refresh the office hours schedule to include every other week at the market, keeping meetings at the Community-Senior Center, and ditching Town Hall as a venue. The libraries could be options, too.
Town Administrator Jamie Errickson interjected that his office was looking to do a brief survey of Board members to find out what they’re looking to get out of office hours to ensure they’re an efficient and effective use of time for these elected volunteers. One idea he floated was having a portal on the town website through which people could schedule meetings with Board members.
The Board itself generally meets every couple of weeks during the summer.
If you have thoughts on any of this, visit the Select Board web page, where contact information is available and an updated schedule should be posted soon.
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