There’s been a lot of discussion about the train station in Ayer and whether the state or Montachusett Regional Planning Commission are mulling plans to close it.
For those who use the train station, the idea of losing it brings upset emotions roiling to the surface. But there are others along Ayer’s Main Street who would be happy to lose the traffic the station generates.
After asking questions of key state planners, state Rep. Robert Hargraves (R-Groton) publicly announced two weeks ago that there is no state intention to close the Ayer station.
That came as good news to some, but to others who hope to ride the issue for political gain, the news was met with public, and vocal, skepticism.
On April 4, Hargraves was in Ayer Town Hall during his regularly scheduled office hours when he was invited upstairs to address the meeting of the Board of Selectmen. He spoke about the new health insurance initiative announced that day, as he was among the group of legislators who worked to reach the current compromise.
After he left, selectmen and the town administrator raised the issue of the train station. They referenced articles quoting Hargraves and questioned the long-term reliability of the information used in making the announcement that the train station would remain.
Referencing the need for commuter parking, Chairman Faye Morrison said, “What has been in the paper is fine, but until we get an agreement from the Department of Conservation and Recreation we could be back to where we started from.”
The problem here is that Hargraves had just been in the room, yet these public officials waited until he had left to question his published statements. Morrison’s comment about the Department of Conservation and Recreation was a good one but it could easily have been posed to Hargraves. It wasn’t.
The question of the train station was posed to state Sen. Pam Resor (D-Acton) during her time before the board by Selectman Connie Sullivan that night, but not to Hargraves.
Further, at a meeting of the citizen’s group, Save the Ayer Train Station, held the week before, Resor was invited to attend. Hargraves was not.
The handling of this matter is transparent as political game-playing to further the cause of one political group at the expense of another.
The politics of individual selectmen and their representatives should play no part in the conduct of town business. The public was not well served by snubbing one elected official in favor of another because of their political affiliations.
Questions about the Ayer train station are important. They should be posed to anyone positioned to get information or influence outcomes, and not limited to those whose political ideologies are a match for the selectmen’s office.