Great Barrington board puts economic panel on hold

Wednesday July 18, 2012

GREAT BARRINGTON -- The Select Board is taking a step back in its effort to create an economic development committee.

The idea of creating such a committee was broached in the spring, as board members sought to create a group exclusively devoted to the specific business and job-growth needs of the town. But after reviewing a draft resolution to create such a committee, the board opted to put the brakes on the plan until the fall.

A number of town officials noted the resolution lacked a clear set of responsibilities or tangible goals. Board members also feared they were creating a committee without a clear charge, which could lead to another series of recommendations that aren't followed through.

The board opted to revise the resolution and wait until October to solicit interest in joining the economic development committee.

By that time, board members said during a recent discussion, the general parameters of the town's new master plan should be completed. A major component of the master plan is economic development, so the eventual committee could use that document, and the considerable economic data included in it, as a road map.

Selectwoman Deborah Phil lips said it's important for the committee to be in sync with the master plan, and waiting until October will avoid any redundancies in research.

"It would be silly for them to race around collecting data when it's already been done," said Phillips. "We want to make sure they make the most of their time."

Phillips plans to work with Town Manager Kevin O'Donnell to update the resolution and clarify the committee's advisory role. She hopes to have it brought back for discussion in August.

Several board members expressed a desire to have Town Planner Christopher Rembold serve as a liaison to the committee to streamline the communication process, but O'Donnell cautioned that Rembold already has a full schedule. He said a variety of town employees would be made available to the committee, including Rembold, when it discusses topics relevant to the corresponding Town Hall departments.

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