The correspondence to the Selectboard on proposed Article 38 has been located. See CLARIFICATION: Unpacking The Selectboard Packet - Missing Correspondence. The email from Peter Silberfarb will be in the next Selectboard packet. Since that meeting is after the election, the email is set forth below.
I am sending this note because I think that the members of the Select Board did not realize all the issues involved in allowing Article 38 to be added to this year's warrant.
I have spent many terms on the Conservation Commission before retiring. Ever since the Conservation Fund was established, the standard procedure and accepted manner in which money from the Conservation fund was spent was initially by application to the Conservation Commission by any citizen of Norwich. This was followed by full evaluation, discussion, research, site visit if necessary, and a vote. If affirmative, the Commission recommended to the Selectboard to dispense funds.
You should know that None of this was done and, I am told, that no Commission member was aware of this article. Nor did the Trails Committee (a subcommittee of the Conservation Committee) discuss or was aware of this article.
It would be a very BAD precedent to permit invasion of the Conservation Fund without any involvement of the duly appointed members of the Conservation Commission or its trail committee.
While I assume that any citizen can submit a petition within the correct timeframe and containing the duly required number of signatures, it is very unwise, in my opinion, not to follow the established policy and procedure when dispensing The Conservation Commission Fund.
I enthusiastically agree with the need to provide non-vehicular commuting, and I am a strong advocate of a Norwich Trail system (as long as it does not endanger rare species). I know that everyone involved is sincerely trying to do the right thing to improve our town, but this article makes a mockery of established policy and procedure.
Another more serious problem with this article which could even result in litigation is that it does not represent the wishes of those who donated to the Conservation Fund. In my years on the Conservation Commission, I have known many who donated to the fund. The purpose of the donation was always to purchase conservation land or assist in the purchase of conserving land or help in preserving important habitats. Donors have relied on the Conservation Commission to make wise decisions about how to utilize these funds and then make recommendations to the Select Board to dispense the funds.
In my professional life, I received many grants and donations for specific purposes. Not using these funds in accordance with the donor's purpose whether written or oral would not only guarantee the end of the funding but probably would be illegal. I fear that not following the long standing intent of how to dispense the Conservation Funds will upset prior donors and dissuade future donors .