To the Editor:
I grew up in New Marlborough. It was my first home and my formative years were spent in the quaint borrow in the hills, a vantage point that many at the February 28th Planning Board meeting do not actually share. I went to the public schools, and my first job was stocking coolers at the Mill River Store. It has been a source of great pride to be a native resident of New Marlborough, that is until now.
When I heard about the outcome of the Planning Board meeting I was horrified to hear that those who posture themselves to be concerned and engaged residents of NM had shifted the meeting and its scheduled agenda towards an aggressive and erroneous public crucification of one of the members. I will not opine to advise on the agenda items being discussed in the meeting, I will leave that for the professionals to discuss.
If I may though, I’d like to invite some context. My family has been active and engaged in the NM community since before I was born. My mother was a pioneer in the early success of The Old Inn on the Green and Gedney Farm for over twenty years and worked tirelessly to maintain the reputation thereof that would one day become one of the foremost wedding destinations in the nation. My father has been a dedicated public servant and member of the Planning Board since 2000, this year marking his 18th year. My father has built everything he has with his own two hands, figuratively and literally. He is a self-taught student of urban planning, and an incredible artist of landscape architecture. He is undeniably a wealth of knowledge in zoning, regulation, and land use. He is a treasured resource. To belittle his efforts and defame his character is preposterous and tone deaf. (I will spare you all the dense potential legal ramifications for defamation of character for another time in hopes for more peaceful resolution.) Mullen is owed a public apology.
I have always known what lies beneath the surface of these people. Their fraudulent, passive aggressive, and often times hypocritical backwards banshee behavior has up until now has been humorous dinner table banter and I have dismissed it. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. However ,Barbara Marchione’s egregious attack on James Mullen and his character cannot and should not be ignored. To take advantage of the platform that is offered at these meetings and publicly humiliate someone has consequences. Interrupting a Board Member and viciously clapping him off a podium into silence is killing the very spirit this institution instills. Marchione’s distracting and venomous interruption not only detracted from the point of the meeting, she reinforced a sort of gang mentality, cult-like group-think that was out of order. I’d also like to remind her, and anyone else who hasn’t left the five towns in a while, that had she pulled this sort of tantrum perhaps in Brooklyn, N.Y., where I reside, or anywhere else outside the backwoods of Mill River, she would have been immediately ejected from the meeting. Her nonsensical outburst was unproductive, grossly misplaced, and frankly unhinged. Further, those who enabled her uncivil and vindictive outburst either by reinforced applause or by silence; you are complicit too. We see you, and we will not forget you.
Had the “concerned” residents of the beloved five towns actually listened to what Mullen had prepared to say, their clarifying questions would have been robustly and enthusiastically addressed. To treat a public town hall meeting (not hearing*) with the same regard as a personality contest is a disservice to the townspeople and those who have served as trusted advisors for the town for nearly two decades. When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, and it has fallen here. It has fallen.
*A public hearing, different than a committee meeting, will be held on March 12th to address the special permit application by the Oasis Campus LLC application.
In the spirit of the revolution of speaking out against bullies and protesting this Trump-era diseased narrative that has infected, or rather revealed our community, it is our responsibility to drag your draconian asses into 2018.
One of the greatest qualities I inherited from my father is that we do not tire easily. We’re not going anywhere.
Govern yourself accordingly, we are waiting.
With endless pride and unconditional support,
His youngest daughter,
Mackenzie W. Mullen