In the Harvard 2010 annual town report Chris Ashley was honored by the annual designation of Citizen of Note. This was in recognition of his part in creating the Harvard Town Center sewer district. It passed at Annual Town Meeting by a better than 5-1 vote.
This was a significant accomplishment. Over 15 years ago, the Board of Selectmen, of which I was then a member, identified the critical septic issues which the town center residents faced and created a group to address the issue. Since then, several additional attempts were made by various committees, boards and groups, but consensus and an ultimate solution was an elusive goal.
It is generally recognized that beyond his known technical skills, Chris brought an ability to calmly re-state the issues, seek out the priorities and concerns of the district and all town residents and create a program that balanced district resident betterment contributions with those of all townspeople in maintaining a town center for the good of all.
Between the betterment and installation, the total costs to a typical town center resident is over $25,000. Some have existing operational systems, others had just spent tens of thousands to upgrade, which would now be abandoned. The town, in general, had a stake in a viable town center, which could provide additional services. All this was successfully negotiated with a heavy input of Chris’s people skills.
Now Chris Ashley is running for the Harvard Planning Board, a body which in the last three years has been racked with vacancies, members declining to continue, lack of candidates and resignations. Beyond planning and technical skills, what a situation such as this needs is a person of proven people skills that can calmly pull the group together, which then makes a group effective in problem-solving and soliciting input, which then creates solutions that most can ascribe to be a consensus.
Chris Ashley is that person.