Making Democracy Work

First Fridays 2017-2018

December First Friday

On Friday, December 1, the League will sponsor a First Friday discussion from 9:15-11:00am at the Fowler Library, 1322 Main Street, West Concord, on the Concord Municipal Light Plant's new Strategic Plan for 2018-2025. David Wood, Director of the Light Plant, will provide a 20-30 minute presentation on the Strategic Plan, and take questions afterwards. This Plan involves an electricity rate increase that is designed to cover the purchase of "green energy" sources of power for the Town, as well as the Light Plant's pathways to reduce greenhouse gases, increase electricity demand, and improve the Light Plant's financial stability. The Strategic Plan addresses fuel switching and electric vehicles, rate design, purchase power agreements and renewable energy, energy storage and smart thermostats, and energy efficiency. Please join us for coffee and light refreshments as we listen to an interesting and enlightening discussion.

November First Friday Report

On November 3, the League sponsored a First Friday program at the West Concord Fowler Library, featuring Sherry Litwack (President of the Library Corporation) and Jeff Adams (Trustee of the Library Corporation). Sherry and Jeff gave us an update on the 2013 acquisition of, and plans for, 151 Main Street, which is next to the Concord Main Library and will be connected to the Library.

Sherry framed the discussion by outlining the three key components of the Town's library program + the Town and its Library Committee, the Concord Public Library Corporation, and the Friends of the Library, all of which are collaborating on the planning. She reviewed the history of the development of the Library's acquisition of 151 Main Street, which will be linked to the existing library. Sherry also gave an overview of the ongoing needs in the Library for an expanded children's section, teen zone, gathering space, special collections, historic room and storage.

Next, Jeff explained the preliminary plans for the new extension and renovation of 151 Main Street. He highlighted the expansion plans and how they will meet the Library's ongoing needs. Jeff noted that the estimated cost of the proposed building project is $8.5 million, with another $1.5 million endowment needed to address administrative and maintenance costs. Fundraising efforts towards the $10 million goal are already underway and have achieved a good beginning towards the goal. If fundraising goes well, construction will begin in 2018, with completion in 2020.

Jeff and Sherry addressed League questions about parking and coordination with the Emerson Umbrella redevelopment and the Concord Museum. They also responded to inquiries about funding sources and fundraising efforts, security for the Library treasures, handicap parking, planned outdoor space for children, room nomenclature, basement storage, maintenance schedules, and redevelopment with an eye towards sustaining the character of the Library and the Town.


October First Friday Report

On Friday, October 6th, 2017, the League of Women Voters of Concord-Carlisle held its opening First Friday at Fowler. The guests were Elise Woodward and Gary Kleiman, Co-Chairs of Concord's Long Range Planning Committee. Ms. Woodward presented a thoughtful perspective on the history of the committee, including the previous Long Range Plan, and the progress of the present committee. Explaining how they had selected Civic Moxie as their consultant team, their use of the APA (American Planning Association) guidelines, and the latest SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats) analysis, she then outlined their timeline, a process that will conclude in June 2018.

Mr. Kleiman used an imaginative metaphor to explain the committee's "holistic approach" to planning. Using the example of small neighborhood parks, he explained how pocket parks could be used for children's play, community connection, power storage, and preservation of open space.

The thirty citizens who attended the event were full of questions for the committee. Asking about focus groups, "authentic" participation of citizens (one of the committee's stated goals), attention to open spaces, concerns for an maintaining an affordable town, and the principles of sustainability, the presenters urged people to go to their website and participate in their October 20-21st public plans, where they will present the results of the committee's survey.