By Mary Kate Feeney
FRAMINGHAM – Enough of what we are against. What are we for?
The noise coming out of Framingham government is at an all high decibel. The finger pointing, the clashing of personalities, the false promises of transparency and collaboration, the lack of communication, the insults … I could go on.
Reading the headlines and watching local meetings, it is obvious to any observer Framingham is in crisis.
Honestly, I am fatigued from the static.
Now is not the time to rehash the past, the who or what that got us to where we are today. Elected officials and keyboard warriors alike waste too much time arguing about personalities and not enough time on what we want. Rather let us ask who is going to lead us from here? What do we, as a community, need and want for our future?
My former boss Governor Deval Patrick once said to me, “Never present a problem without a solution.” It is a solid piece of advice Framingham needs to take to heart.
I am finished with the complaints. I want to hear solutions.
Here is a start:
Instead of arguing over the lack of solar panels on city roofs, implement the five year old plan from Framingham-based industry leader Ameresco to install solar on municipal and school roofs. The road map is there to get this done.
Instead of wishing for the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, create an ambitious multi-year plan to acquire, design and open this 3.5 mile rail trail. This plan should include creative sources of funding that includes working with state, federal and nonprofit partners and a clear communications strategy to keep neighbors up to date on progress. We cannot afford to squander this opportunity.
Instead of wondering why our economic base isn’t growing, launch an aggressive post-pandemic recovery marketing campaign shouting from the rooftops that Framingham is on the move and filled with opportunity. Hold a Restaurant Week in June and encourage residents to try a new-to-them local restaurant. Have an economic development team in tune with the needs of businesses and at the ready to help them start and flourish.
Instead of hearing residents express their worry about the cost of living in the city, build a budget that puts residents first, not last. A budget that looks out for their needs and wants, not what the insiders need with a process that listens to residents’ ideas and makes the budget easy to access. Restoring lifeguards and an additional leaf pick up day shouldn’t be viewed as a special treat – it should be a given service.
Instead of building a community center in a northside neighborhood with no public transportation access, build a community center in a southside neighborhood for our at promise youth, where they can go for afterschool activities and sports. Additionally, connect our kids with mentors and internships with local businesses and nonprofit partners.
Imagine if we stopped the talking and complaining, and actually take action.
Framingham is caught perpetually spinning its wheels in the status quo. Meanwhile, talented people disengage, ideas die and the same grudges are rehashed over and over.
Thankfully, the local elections this fall present the community a relief from the noise.
Let us think big and boldly state our wants and needs. Elect leaders who embrace the future and believe in Framingham. Time is now to build something special, not tear things down. The things that pull us together are greater than what tears us apart.
I believe in Framingham. Let’s seize this moment – together – to decrease the noise and work towards a brighter future.
We can do it.
Mary Kate Feeney, a resident of Pheasant Hill, is a former aide to Governor Deval L. Patrick.