By Luke Canavan
FRAMINGHAM – District 8 City Councilor John Stefanini is proposing increasing the Framingham Board of Health from a size of three to five members.
Stefanini said a big part of this proposal has to do with certain limitations of a three-person committee, specifically with adhering to open meeting laws. The laws say a majority of members cannot meet or discuss information outside of meetings. If the board is only made up of three members, then even two members have a hard time meeting. If the board was made up of five members, however, then two members would be able to meet without it being considered a violation. This would allow for members to work on things outside of meetings.
Current Framingham Board of Health Chair Gillian Carcia also recognized the limitations of a three-person board.
“The major setback of having 3 members is that none of the board members can speak to each other without possible violation of the open meeting laws—which I do not believe is in the spirit of those laws. In these complex times and going forward, the Department can benefit from the additional support a larger board could bring,” said Carcia.
Stefanini said the Framingham Board of Health used to be made up of five members, but that it was repealed by The Charter.
The Town of Framingham had a 3-member Board of Health which increased it to a 5-member Board in 2016
But when Framingham became a City in 2018, the Board reverted back to a 3-member Board.
“The Charter repealed the special act that gave Framingham a 5-member Board of Health as it was intertwined with the Town Manager Act. This request would restore the five member board to give the health director more support,” said at-large City Councilor Janet Leombruno.
In terms of next steps, the proposal will have to be presented to the City Council’s subcommittee on public health & safety.
A meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 8.
From there, it would be taken to a public hearing for residents to listen and then address their concerns.
The proposal would then have to be taken back to full Council.
“[The] overarching goal is to ensure our health department has the resources and the team necessary to meet the demands of the community,” said Stefanini. “Adding a couple of members will go a long way in ensuring more collaboration and diversity.”
Luke Canavan is a spring 2021 SOURCE intern. He is currently a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he studies Communication and English. He is passionate about film, television, writing, and literature, and upon graduation, he hopes to work in the entertainment industry full-time, where he can pursue his love for storytelling.