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Dec. 11 is a most important day for student-athletes that are currently attending the Ayer Shirley Regional High School, and those that are to follow for the next 20 to 30 years, as a ballot vote to approve a debt exclusion will need to pass each town for the fields project to pass.

The project being voted on would provide a modernized set of fields, that have not had significant upgrades since their installation, 54 years ago! These fields will be able to accommodate the growing enrollment of our high school, along with the current participation levels that this has created, while at the same time, providing long overdue compliance to the American’s With Disabilities Act. The planned project, put forth by the Subcommittee, takes into consideration current and future useage, provides for a field surface that can withstand nearly unlimited use, provides a more safe and secure practice and game playing facilty, and will serve nearly 60 percent of the student body that currently participates in sports on these fields. It will welcome those in our community that have been unable to navigate the terrain and access to the bleachers, which are not ADA-compliant.

As a resident of Ayer for over a decade, a resident of Shirley for the past two years, and a volunteer on both the high school building project and current fields project, it is my position that a select few leaders in Shirley are truly doing a disservice to their constituents, who they have publicly stated they have a fiduciary responsibility toward, and are knowingly misrepresenting facts in evidence, outstepping the boundaries of their positions to a point where their ethics are to be challenged, and are unable to work within a body of local government, or a committee empowered to act in good faith for the community.

All this because their “individual vision” does not match the plan being put forth. These same people will concede that an overhaul is due, yet offered nothing more than a personal testimonial of what they thought the project should look like. This, in turn, was adopted by the Shirley Finance Committee, as the plan they were comfortable with.

Shame on you for thinking this is the level of service and diligence the citizenry, that you swore to represent in good faith, are entitled to.

This is more about a few people not getting their way, and their inability to act within the guidelines of their public positions, and their unwillingness to accept the work that a panel of citizens, athletic directors, parks and rec directors, youth sports organization directors, facilities managers, led by a professional landscape architect, as a consultant, have developed. It is shameful, and has led to a growing amount of discord between friends and neighbors. People wonder why it has gotten so “ugly.” This is exactly why!

A project of this magnitude and expense is complicated, beyond what the average citizen can comprehend. There have been multiple opportunities for the public to gather facts at various forums, poster presentations, town meetings and community events. Slides of the project, detailing every aspect have been offered up on the project’s website, and on social media. There is still time to get any questions answered about the project.

A certain segment feels they can’t afford it, which is entirely understandable. Others have had the attitude of “What’s in it for me?”, which is not a community-minded spirit, as we all use or can use the public facilities that our tax monies go to pay.

This is really turning into a vote on what type of community do we want to be known as. A forward-thinking, community-minded town, that values the education, and is willing to provide the facilities necessary for a well-rounded high school experience on a par with neighboring communities that have asked their citizens to pass similar types of projects that have succeeded. Or a town run and dictated by those that are willing to fabricate, and even go on record to speak on behalf of committees they have no authority to represent. This vote will send a message as to what the future of our town will look like, and the level of representation we can expect to receive.

A “yes” vote is for the brightest future for our town, and its students! Let’s do right by the kids, and send a message to our leadership!

Bob Oestreicher

Shirley