The following letter, dated June 18, was sent from Matthew Gillespie the Board of Selectmen, chair of the Board of Education and leaders of Byram Neighborhood Association (BNA) including Bob McKnight and John Bowman, as well as past BNA president Mike Bocchino.
To Whom it May Concern,
I am writing to voice my concerns for the elections that took place for the Byram Neighborhood Association on May 19, 2015 when the BNA met with members of the Board of Education to address the scheduled Selectman vote for the school at New Lebanon. I attended the meeting as a BNA Board member to learn more about the concerns that the community had and to hear what the Board of Education had to say in response. Since I was late, I sat with the public as Vice-Chairperson Bob McKnight ran the meeting.
As full disclosure I have been on the board as the Treasurer since 2007. My attendance at meetings has been somewhat sporadic and since this is a volunteer position it’s sometimes difficult to balance a career with community activism. That aside, I have always been notified either via email or via postings at the Byram Shubert Library (which I frequent often) of upcoming elections and I was surprised to hear at the end of the discussion that the Board was opening up the floor to nominations. As a sitting and previous member of the Board I do not believe the proper procedures were followed per our By-Laws:
(By-Laws of the BNA as stated on our website http://byramct.org/documents/BNA-By-Laws.pdf)
The election of Board Members and Executive Committee Members will be determined by a plurality of members present at the annual meeting. The list of candidates will be created by nominators from the general membership and the sitting officers, board or executive committee no later than fourteen (14) days prior to the selected election date. Nominators from the general membership shall be forwarded to any officer, board member, or executive committee member prior to the fourteen (14) day limit. The list of candidates will be posted at the Byram Archibald Neighborhood Center (BANC) and the Byram Shubert Library no less than seven (7) days prior to the election.
When the elections took place I only assumed that the Vice-Chairman running the floor had all of his ducks in a row so I voted on the nominees for Chair and Vice-Chair and even nominated myself to another term as Treasurer (but I was also voted on to be Secretary which I do not believe according to our By-Laws I can be both). After further research and recollection I do not recall that this was advertised or scheduled previously as an “Annual” meeting and to my knowledge there was no notice given 7 days prior as to who the candidates would be nor do I have any recollection of seeing any notice posted at the Byram Shubert Library.
Notwithstanding my current re-elected position as Treasurer and Secretary I ask that the previous Board of Directors provide proof that there was ample notice given per our By-Laws and provide any backup they seem fit to substantiate the vote. If there were any procedural deficiencies or lack of proof I would then suggest that the current Board resign and the previously elected board– Mike Bocchino, Robert MckNight, Matthew Gillespie and John Bowman call an annual meeting which follows the correct procedure for elections of the BNA.
Why does Byram matter to me?? Well, for the past 8 years that I have had the privilege of serving on the BNA I have been involved with some not so popular things like the waterfront development on South Water Street, but I have also been involved with so many other projects that has enhanced Byram. Projects like opening up access to the waterfront along South Water Street—one which is already open on Church Street and another one at the DPW pump station which seems to be well underway. We have also enhanced our safe routes to school program with better sidewalks and protections, added a turn-about for large trucks leaving South Water Street so they are not going through residential areas, and we can’t forget the new pool at Byram Park which the RTM recently voted to support and that the Junior League is behind 100%. These may seem like small things to the typical resident of Greenwich but when a community as vibrant and culturally and economically diverse as Byram goes neglected for years and years, you take pride in how a little improvement in a community can mean so much.
Now as we start involving the kids of Byram and their open spaces and their local community school, and then you stop and think about the future generations of Byram kids that will grow up here you learn to appreciate the unique characteristics of this neighborhood that you do not find with anywhere else Greenwich. So I feel it’s important that the BNA, the Board of Education and the Board of Selectman fully understands what the community wants, not just one voice which may not reflect the opinion of the majority of Byram.
The BNA has been one of the most vocal and successful neighborhood associations in Greenwich so it’s important we continue to be impeachable and work together to keep making Byram strong so let’s keep it about the community and not about politics!!
BNA Board Member