Mashpee Election Draws Three Candidates for 2 Planning Board Seats

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MASHPEE — For voters in the city of Mashpee, the May 7 annual election will feature three contested races and a ballot question regarding the release of radioactive water into Cape Cod Bay.

Polling stations will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 7.

Voters will decide contested races, including for the Planning Council, which has two seats available and three candidates including Paul Thurston, Karen Faulkner and Michael Richardson. Here are each contestant’s thoughts on Mashpee, listed in alphabetical order:

Candidate Karen Faulkner

Speaking about his bid for a seat on the Mashpee planning board, Faulkner touched on the updated local comprehensive plan, saying the whole process was effective. Faulkner said she was pleased with the contribution from the community.

“We really have to carefully read the existing LCP, remove what is no longer relevant and keep what is good and figure out what our vision is,” Faulkner said. “We have to keep answering where we are, where do we want to be and how to get there.”

Although Faulkner said she supports the Sewer Commission and the Mashpee Clean Waters sewer system initiative, she said she wants to do more to address environmental issues that impact the quality of life in Mashpee. .

“We shouldn’t build beyond the capacity of the environment,” Faulkner said. “We’ve built too many houses (over the past two decades) and only had one septic tank, so we’re dealing with terribly polluted water.”

Faulkner also spoke about plans for further development of Mashpee Commons. As a member of the Envision Mashpee group, Faulkner said she was against Mashpee Commons’ original plan to expand.

“It (the Mashpee Commons expansion) just didn’t fit the city – it was too dense, too tall and too big. We need to preserve our uniqueness and it wouldn’t have preserved it,” she said. . “They also came up with a potential street wall on Route 28 to the roundabout and that would have just destroyed the character of Mashpee.”

Despite her opposition to the potential project, Faulkner said she would be open to reviewing revised plans for the project’s expansion due to the need for affordable housing. But Faulkner also wants to take a close look at the possibilities of renovating existing buildings.

“I support smart growth and redevelopment ideas that fit our city and rural character,” she said.

Candidate Michel Richardson

Richardson, a former board and finance committee member, is also a candidate for the planning board and said he was frustrated that many issues with the original local comprehensive plan remained unresolved.

“It’s too late to update. You can’t keep kicking the road,” he said. “There will be disagreements, but the update process will be completed. I look forward to it being completed as soon as possible.”

Although expanded plans for Mashpee Commons have failed, Richardson also sees opportunities for future development – ​​including affordable housing – but said environmental concerns must be addressed first.

“I use the word smart growth. We should be able to grow a bit – with a mindset that we can’t do that without making sure everything is taken care of environmentally,” he said. he declares. “We should be able to find a way to build housing for people who need it.”

While there are intense issues like water quality and sewage, Richardson said, city leaders and the community need to show tolerance and patience while working on the city’s future vision.

“We’re (at) the point in Mashpee where people are being escorted out of meetings because they’re yelling at the select committee chair. It can be a smoother process, it can be a less intense process,” he said. he declares. “We have to work harder. We have to work smarter. But we also have to be tolerant of someone else’s ideas.”

Candidate Paul Thurston

Although the third candidate, Thurston, has never been involved in city politics before, after retiring to Cape Cod about four years ago, he hopes to use his 30 years of experience in real estate and construction to contribute to the Planning Board.

With a host of initiatives the Planning Council is currently working on, he said there was a lot at stake for the city – especially with the updated Local Comprehensive Plan. While he finds valid data points in the plan, he said he was looking for a bulletin from an outside agency or consulting firm to answer questions from the community.

“I think a lot of those things (in the original local global plan) are still relevant, but I also strongly believe that there are new issues in front of people that should also be added,” he said. -he declares. “It’s really important to get people to go online and take a questionnaire so we can get a realistic snapshot of everyone’s understanding – what their thoughts, goals and concepts are for the future. ”

Thurston also weighed in on the Mashpee Common expansion and said if elected to the planning board, he would lend his expertise to help guide the project for what the city wants to see in the future. From his understanding, he said that the owner also has certain rights and privileges.

“I think it’s a perfect opportunity right now to meet the owner and talk in good faith,” he said. “And maybe try to get a conservation area, try to get affordable housing in areas that aren’t retail, and make it a win-win for both the city, the owner of the personal property and people in our community.”

Thurston said he doesn’t consider Mashpee to be overdeveloped. He pointed to old, dilapidated homes and cottages filled with asbestos, mold and lead paint. Some of the septic tanks, he said, lie in groundwater.

“These houses are great in the summer with all the windows open and everyone thinks there are no problems,” he said. “If our environment is important to us, we need to get them up to code. I don’t think we’re overwhelmed. I think we need to make a 100% full effort to clean up all areas of Mashpee.”

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